Richard D. Vann
Assistant Professor Emeritus in Anesthesiology

Dr. Vann's research interests encompass the physiology, medicine, and epidemiology of special respiratory environments and the equipment and procedures to allow safe human exposures. Relevant environments include diving, compressed air work, mountaineering, and aerospace. The pressure chambers in Dr. Vann's laboratory can simulate high altitude or high pressure under dry or immersed conditions while controlling inspired oxygen, carbon dioxide, inert gas, and total pressure to desired levels. Measurement capabilities include pulmonary function, arterial blood gases, and nitrogen uptake or elimination. Specific investigations have included: (1) environmental and physiological factors affecting cerebral blood flow, cerebral oxygenation, and CNS oxygen toxicity; (2) nitrogen elimination during oxygen breathing; (3) effect of hypercapnia on arterial oxygen saturation and cerebral oxygenation during hypoxia; (4) effects of hyperventilation and oxygen breathing on breath-hold; (5) mechanisms and locations of in vitro and in vivo bubble formation and their relation to decompression sickness; (6) physiological damage resulting from in situ bubbles and from bubbles associated with implanted biomaterials. Respiratory physiology studies have included optimizing oxygen delivery equipment for sea level and altitude. Dr. Vann has a particular interest in decompression sickness. Human decompression studies have included: (1) factors affecting decompression sickness in astronauts during extravehicular activity in space; (2) surface interval oxygen and in-water oxygen repetitive dive tables; (3) determination of safe surface intervals before flying after diving; (4) use of dive computers to record recreational dive profile and medical outcome data for the Divers Alert Network; (5) development of statistical models of decompression sickness and acute mountain sickness. Dr. Vann's current active projects include probabilistic modeling of decompression sickness and the analysis of diving injury and fatality data (including open-circuit, rebreathers, and cave diving) with the Divers Alert Network.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

  • 0585 Clin Res II, Bldg Cr-ii, Basement White Zone, Durham, NC 27710
  • Box 3823 Med Ctr, Durham, NC 27710

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