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Robert A. Darnall, MD

Title(s):
Emeritus Professor of Molecular and Systems Biology
Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics

Department(s):
Molecular and Systems Biology
Pediatrics

Education:
Stanford University, AB 1968
U. California - Los Angeles School of Medicine, MD 1972

Programs:
Neuroscience Center at Dartmouth
Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine

Websites:
http://dms.dartmouth.edu/ncd/

Contact Information:

Dartmouth Medical School
HB 7445
Hanover NH 03755


Professional Interests:

Dr. Darnall is active clinically as a neonatologist at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and is actively involved in teaching graduate and medical students, residents and fellows. He is especially interested in the management of the very low birth weight infant and apnea of prematurity and is actively involved in investigation of the neurobiology of respiratory control in the neonate. He is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on The Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). His basic science research interests have focused on respiratory and cardiovascular control, sleep, and thermoregulation in both humans and animals. In the past he has investigated in rats and piglets the role of cerebral blood flow in the etiology of hypoxia induced apnea, the central mechanisms responsible for the integration of cardiovascular and respiratory activity in medullary sympathetic outflow, the integration of cardiovascular and respiratory responses to upper airway stimulation, the role of the pons in the ventilatory response to hypoxia, and influence of vestibular stimulation on sleep and breathing in the human premature infant. Current interests are focused on the role of serotonin and GABA in the medullary raphe on sleep and arousal and thermoregulation with the clinical focus on SIDS. Arousal from sleep in response to potentially dangerous stimuli including hypoxia and hypercapnia is an important first line protective defense mechanism. Most recently studies have focused on the ability of newborn and infants rats to wake up in response to hypoxia and hypercapnia and how this is modulated by previous exposures including chronic intermittent hypoxia, maternal alcohol, cigarette smoke, overheating, and inflammation.


Selected Publications:

 

  • Darnall RA, Harris MB, Gill WH, Hoffman JM, Brown JW, Niblock MM. Inhibition of serotonergic neurons in the nucleus paragigantocellularis lateralis fragments sleep and decreases rapid eye movement sleep in the piglet: implications for sudden infant death syndrome. J Neurosci. 2005 Sep 7;25(36):8322-32. (view details in PubMed)

  • Hoffman JM, Brown JW, Sirlin EA, Benoit AM, Gill WH, Harris MB, Darnall RA. Activation of 5-HT1A receptors in the paragigantocellularis lateralis decreases shivering during cooling in the conscious piglet. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007 Jul;293(1):R518-27. Epub 2007 Apr 4. (view details in PubMed)

  • Brown JW, Sirlin EA, Benoit AM, Hoffman JM, Darnall RA. Activation of 5-HT1A receptors in medullary raphé disrupts sleep and decreases shivering during cooling in the conscious piglet. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2008 Mar;294(3):R884-94. Epub 2007 Dec 19. (view details in PubMed)

  • Darnall RA. The role of CO(2) and central chemoreception in the control of breathing in the fetus and the neonate. Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2010 Oct 31;173(3):201-12. Epub 2010 Apr 23. (view details in PubMed)

  • Darnall RA, McWilliams S, Schneider RW, Tobia CM. Reversible blunting of arousal from sleep in response to intermittent hypoxia in the developing rat. J Appl Physiol. 2010 Oct 7. [Epub ahead of print] (view details in PubMed)

  • Darnall RA, Schneider RW, Tobia CM, Zemel BM. . Arousal from sleep in response to intermittent hypoxia in rat pups is modulated by medullary raphe GABAergic mechanisms. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2012 Mar;302:R551-60. (view details in PubMed)

  • Darnall RA. The carotid body and arousal in the fetus and neonate. Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2013 Jan;185:132-43. (view details in PubMed)

  • Rhein LM, Dobson NR, Darnall RA, Corwin MJ, Heeren TC, Poets CF, McEntire BL, Hunt CE; Caffeine Pilot Study Group. Effects of caffeine on intermittent hypoxia in infants born prematurely: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Pediatr. 2014, Mar;168:250-7. (view details in PubMed)