Dr Kelly Suzanne Burrowes



Kelly Burrowes graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering with First Class Honours, specialising in Chemical & Materials Engineering, from the University of Auckland in 2000. She completed her PhD in Bioengineering at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute in 2005. She was then awarded a post-doctoral fellowship, funded through the EPSRC UK at the Life Sciences Interface, to work within the Computational Biology Group at the University of Oxford. She then secured further research funding through the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme and built up a research team focussing on respiratory modelling with application to the obstructive lung diseases asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). She has a current NIH grant, awarded through the University of California San Diego, related to computational modelling of proton MRI techniques to measure lung function.

Research | Current

Since 2001, I have been involved in bioengineering research centered on creating patient-based computational models of the respiratory system. My initial work focused on developing models of the pulmonary circulation, and these models have been applied to investigate perfusion distribution and gas exchange during pulmonary embolism and to understand the limitations in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of pulmonary perfusion. More recently, my research has turned towards simulation of aspects of ventilation and forced expiration with particular application to understanding links between structure-function changes in the obstructive lung diseases of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). My ongoing research goal is to develop efficient novel computational tools - combining mathematical and computational techniques with experimental, imaging and clinical studies - to provide an increased understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms occurring in obstructive lung and pulmonary vascular diseases. My passion is for the application and translation of computational and image processing techniques to the clinical environment. 

Specific active research collaborations include:

  1. simulating impedance and ventilation in the lung (with Drs Rafel Bordas (Oxford) and Salman Siddiqui (Leicester));
  2. predicting forced expiration pre- and post-clinical intervention (with Professors Tawhai (Auckland) and Brightling (Leicester) and Dr Kerry Hedges (Auckland));
  3. application of computational models to understanding the physiological assumption in proton MRI (with Professors Kim Prisk, Rick Buxton, Sue Hopkins (San Diego) and Robb Glenny (Washington));
  4. developing a multi-scale model of the airway (with Professor Rod Smallwood (Sheffield) and Dr Bindi Brook (Nottingham));
  5. application of hyperpolarised gas MR images to computational model parameterisation (with Prof Jim Wild (Sheffield), Dr Rafel Bordas (Oxford));
  6. investigating the impact of BMI on lung density measurements (with Professor Merryn Tawhai and Dr Alys Clark (Auckland));
  7. developing an educational web application for smoking-related disease and smoking cessation (with Professor Merryn Tawhai and Dr Richard Christie (Auckland)).

Postgraduate supervision


Amir Rastar (2015-). Computational models for image- and model-based biomarkers in asthma.

Luca Parisi (2015-). Developing and validating a novel integrated computational model of the human lung to understand the pathophysiology of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

Daniel Addo (2016-). Validation of MR imaging techniques measuring ventilation and perfusion in the lungs via computational modelling.


 Michal Plotkowiak (2007-2010). Hyperpolarised gas MRI for regional chronic lung disease assessment.

 Lorenz Berger (2011-2015). Developing a poro-elastic model of the lung.


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Bordas, R., Lefevre, C., Veeckmans, B., Pitt-Francis, J., Fetita, C., Brightling, C. E., ... Burrowes, K. S. (2015). Development and Analysis of Patient-Based Complete Conducting Airways Models. PloS one, 10 (12)10.1371/journal.pone.0144105
  • Burrowes, K. S., Clark, A. R., Wilsher, M. L., Milne, D. G., & Tawhai, M. H. (2014). Hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction as a contributor to response in acute pulmonaryembolism. Annals of biomedical engineering, 42 (8), 1631-1643. 10.1007/s10439-014-1011-y
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/31025
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Merryn Tawhai, Alys Clark
  • Burrowes, K. S., De Backer, J., Smallwood, R., Sterk, P. J., Gut, I., Wirix-Speetjens, R., ... Maier, D. (2013). Multi-scale computational models of the airways to unravel the pathophysiological mechanisms in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AirPROM). Interface focus, 3 (2)10.1098/rsfs.2012.0057
  • Burrowes, K. S., Buxton, R. B., & Prisk, G. K. (2012). Assessing potential errors of MRI-based measurements of pulmonary blood flow using a detailed network flow model. J Appl Physiol (1985), 113 (1), 130-141. 10.1152/japplphysiol.00894.2011
  • Burrowes, K. S., Clark, A. R., Marcinkowski, A., Wilsher, M. L., Milne, D. G., & Tawhai, M. H. (2011). Pulmonary embolism: predicting disease severity. Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci, 369 (1954), 4255-4277. 10.1098/rsta.2011.0129
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Alys Clark, Merryn Tawhai
  • Clark, A. R., Tawhai, M. H., Hoffman, E. A., & Burrowes, K. S. (2011). The interdependent contributions of gravitational and structural features to perfusion distribution in a multi-scale model of the pulmonary circulation. Journal of Applied Physiology, 110 (4), 943-955. 10.1152/japplphysiol.00775.2010
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/9186
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Alys Clark, Merryn Tawhai


Contact details

Alternative contact

Department of Computer Science
University of Oxford

Web links