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photo of sunflowerOur main goal is to improve access to specialized health care services through a patient-centered approach in order to help improve lives of people with chronic pulmonary diseases in Kansas and around the globe. This patient-centered approach allows us to deliver rehabilitation and education in parallel to research with the goal of developing innovative health care.

We are proud to say our lab is centered around engaging with the community, including in patients’ homes. Overall, we strive to provide Better Rehabilitation, research, and Education, to Assist Those in Homes Everywhere (BREATHE).

Developing an Interprofessional COVID-19 Academic Network (I-CAN) for Treating Long-COVID

Our overarching goal is to help improve the rural health disparity gap in Kansas and beyond. Many COVID-19 survivors report lingering symptoms for several months after diagnosis. Two of the most frequent Long-COVID symptoms include unusual shortness of breath and fatigue, leading to increased difficulty with routine daily activities.

image for woman health care provider with older patientPulmonary rehabilitation can be used to help treat people with respiratory-related symptoms due to Long-COVID, however, 73% of rural counties in the United States do not have a pulmonary rehabilitation program.

The purpose of this project is to expand respiratory therapy and registered nursing workforce capacity in Kansas Health Professional Shortage Areas, focusing especially on building skills to treat persons with Long-COVID. The I-CAN will include a collaborative group of stakeholders (educators, clinicians, payers, policy makers, professional organizations, patients). Collectively, the I-CAN will focus on increasing skills in the rural health care workforce in Kansas and delivering a combination of didactic and clinical experiences centered on evidence-based pulmonary rehabilitation principles, for improving the lives of people with Long-COVID.

Further, this community-based approach will allow us to better understand what interventions (e.g., tele-rehab) and research questions are most meaningful to rural stakeholders, as we continue our clinical research efforts with our rural partners.

This project was funded by a Health Resources and Services Administration grant, award number 6 TR1RH45932‐01‐01; Dave Burnett, Ph.D., RRT, principal investigator and Cynthia Teel, Ph.D., RN, co-principal investigator.

Cystic Fibrosis

Photo of woman outside wearing oxygen backpackOur goal is to improve access to care for people with cystic fibrosis to improve outcomes associated with morbidity and mortality. Shortness-of-breath associated with cystic fibrosis contributes to a sedentary lifestyle and decreased exercise tolerance, which leads to reduced cardiorespiratory fitness. Poor cardiorespiratory fitness is a strong, independent predictor of mortality in people with cystic fibrosis.

Exercise training has become a valued element of care for improving cardiorespiratory fitness in people with cystic fibrosis. However, many of these individuals cannot travel to locations with specialized rehabilitation due to time and costs. Further, the most effective aerobic exercise strategy for improving this fitness is not known. Therefore, we are studying the effects of different exercise interventions during a partially supervised, telehealth pulmonary rehabilitation program.

The results from this work will inform us on the most effective pulmonary rehabilitation strategies to elicit the greatest improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness and other important patient-centered health outcomes in people with cystic fibrosis.

Dave Burnett, Ph.D., RRT, principal investigator
Joel Mermis, co-principal investigator


We focus on community-based projects using patient-centered outcomes research to improve "real-world" clinical practice. These projects have included asthma teleECHO incorporating an interdisciplinary group of asthma clinicians and stakeholders from rural Kansas to Africa. This group works collaboratively on case-based scenarios to help establish better outcomes for asthma control.

Our team has also studied the prevalence of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction among college athletes. This work is made possible by a strong collaboration between faculty in the schools of Health Professions and Medicine at KU Medical Center.

Dave Burnett, Ph.D., RRT, principal investigator
Matthew Sharpe, M.D., co-principal investigator

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

We aim to determine the impact a telehealth pulmonary rehabilitation program has on improving physical activity in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, commonly referred to as “COPD.”

This project was funded by a Vision Grant-Young Investigator Award from the American Association of Respiratory Care.

Cheryl Skinner, M.Sc., RRT, principal investigator
Dave Burnett, Ph.D., RRT, co-principal investigator

KU School of Health Professions

University of Kansas Medical Center
Respiratory Care and Diagnostic Science
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Mailstop 1013
Kansas City, KS 66160
913-588-4630 • 711 TTY