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Dr Katie Warnaby (Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences) received Medical Research Council Confidence in Concept funding to develop a new technique for measuring depth of anaesthesia in patients. She discusses her research, and what she was able to achieve with the funding.

 Interview transcript 


Slow-wave activity saturation (SWAS) is a change in the electrical activity of the brain under anaesthesia, which potentially signals the point when people lose perception of the outside world.

Delivering anaesthesia to achieve SWAS will hopefully allow clinicians to more accurately individualise the drug dose required to achieve unawareness during surgery. Importantly, it will also potentially reduce the over-anaesthesia that frequently occurs in patients to prevent awareness.

Two separate MRC Confidence in Concept grants allowed Dr Warnaby's team to see if their experimental discovery of SWAS occurred clinically, and then deliver a real-time model that will allow anaesthesia to be delivered to SWAS using brain feedback. This forms the first stage of the creation of a new depth of anaesthesia monitor based on SWAS. 


Katie WarnabyDr Katie Warnaby 

Senior Research Scientist

Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences



This project received £52k from the MRC Confidence in Concept fund across two rounds between April 2013 and August 2015. The first round was supported by matched funding (£34k) from the Oxford Invention Fund. This was to support the clear translational potential of the project. 

Further resources

Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences

Wellcome Centre For Integrative Neuroimaging