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Caroline is a Sir Henry Dale Fellow funded by the Wellcome Trust and Royal Society and is an Associate Professor.

Caroline completed her undergraduate degree in Mathematics at the University of Warwick in 2008. She then joined the Centre for Mathematics and Physics in the Life Sciences and Experimental Biology (CoMPLEX), University College London, first undertaking a Master's degree in Mathematical Biology before carrying on to do a PhD. Her PhD research examined brain development in preterm babies, looking at EEG recordings and using computational neural network models to explore how neuronal connections form in the developing brain.

Caroline then moved to the University of Oxford, working as a Postdoctoral Researcher with Prof. Rebeccah Slater. As part of this work, Caroline developed methods to assess analgesic efficacy in infants using noxious-evoked brain activity, and led the Poppi (Procedural Pain in Premature Infants) Clinical Trial investigating the analgesic efficacy and safety of morphine in premature infants. In 2018, Caroline was awarded a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship to investigate the impact of apnoea on brain development in premature infants.

Caroline Hartley

MMath MRes PhD

Associate Professor & Wellcome Trust/Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellow

Caroline develops approaches to analyse infant brain activity and physiological data, such as heart rate and oxygen saturation, to address clinically relevant questions in the field of neonatal neuroscience. Caroline's research focuses on understanding the impact of apnoea on premature infant brain development, and providing measures to improve the assessment and treatment of pain in infants.

Apnoea - the cessation of breathing - is a common pathology associated with prematurity. These potentially life-threatening events can result in reduced cerebral oxygenation and frequent episodes of apnoea have been associated with long-term effects including reduced childhood cognitive ability. 1 in every 10 babies are born prematurely; understanding and mitigating the long-term impact of premature birth is important to improve the lives of these children. We have created some animations to explain apnoea and brain development in premature babies, you can find these here.

Hospitalised infants can receive multiple painful procedures a day as part of their essential care. As babies cannot describe the pain they experience it is often difficult to treat. Improving our understanding of the way the infant nervous system processes pain is essential to better treat it.

Ongoing DPhil Projects

In my research group our current primary focuses are to understand the interaction between respiration and the brain in premature infants, and how this changes with age and with pharmacological interventions. We use techniques such as EEG (electroencephalography) to record brain activity in infants and relate this to changes in the infant’s respiration. We have developed new methods to assess respiration and identify apnoeas in infants and use the methods to investigate how respiration is altered by commonly prescribed medication for infants. We are also interested in using techniques such as machine learning to improve patient care through personalised drug dosing.

Key publications

Recent publications

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