Denis O'Donnell

Dr. Denis O'Donnell


  • Clinician-scientist, KGHRI
  • Director, Respiratory Investigative Unit, Queen’s University
  • Professor of Medicine; cross appointments to the Departments of Biomedical & Molecular Sciences (Physiology), Rehabilitation Medicine and Kinesiology & Health Studies, Queen’s University


Exercise physiology; Mechanisms of breathlessness and exercise limitation in cardiopulmonary disease; lung mechanics and control of breathing in COPD.


Dr. Denis O’Donnell is a Professor of Medicine at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.  He is a Senior Clinician Scientist and Director of the Respiratory Investigation Unit, Kingston Health Science Centre.  He trained at the University of Galway, Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, and Trinity College, Dublin, and later at the University of Manitoba where he completed a Doctorate in Medicine. 

Dr. O’Donnell is the former Chair of the Canadian Thoracic Society COPD Guidelines Committee and Past President of the Ontario and Canadian Thoracic Societies.  He has served on several national and international scientific committees as well as on editorial panels of leading respiratory journals. 

Education and honours

  • MB, BCh, BAO, National University of Ireland
  • Doctorate in Medicine, University of Manitoba


  • Distinguished Scientist Honor Lecture in Cardiopulmonary Physiology: CHEST 2020
  • Honorary Life Membership: Ontario Thoracic Society (2019) 
  • Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award: European Respiratory Society, Clinical Physiology and Sleep Assembly (2019)
  • Thomas Aldrich Memorial Lecture: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY (2019)
  • Keynote Speaker:  American Thoracic Society International Conference (2019)
  • Brian J. Sproule Lectureship, Alberta Respiratory Centre, University of Alberta (2018)
  • 2018 CIHR-ICRH/CTS Distinguished Lecturer Award in Respiratory Sciences (2018)
  • Ludwig Engel Visiting Professor Oration for 2017, Sydney, AU (2017)
  • Queen’s University Health Sciences 2017 Prize for Research Excellence (2017)
  • Lung Association/Pfizer Canada COPD Research Award (2015)
  • Queen’s Department of Medicine Research Achievement Award (2015)
  • Distinguished Achievement Award, Canadian Thoracic Society (2015)
  • Lung Association/Pfizer Canada COPD Research Award (2014)
  • Excellence in Research and Respiratory Physiology Award, ARTP (UK) (2013)
  • PK Morgan Honour Lecture, Assoc. of Respiratory Technology & Physiotherapy (ARTP) (2013)
  • John Rankin Visiting Professor & Honour Lecture; University of Madison, WI, USA (2008)
  • Jean Jacques Gauthier Award and Honour Lecture, University of Montreal (2008)
  • Visiting Professor, Yale University (2007)
  • Dr. Edward Livingstone Trudeau Lecture, New York State Thoracic Society (2007)
  • Distinguished Scientist Honour Lecture, American College of Chest Physicians (2005)
  • Ontario Lung Association Meritorious Service Award (1997)
  • Ontario Ministry of Health Career Scientist Award (renewed annually)   (1994-2004)
  • Basmajian Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research, Queen's University (1993)


Dr. O'Donnell's research is focused on clinical integrative physiology in chronic lung diseases including the physiological mechanisms of dyspnea and exercise limitation. At Queen’s he assembled a highly productive clinical research team which has been very successful in attracting peer-reviewed and pharmaceutical company grant support over 30 years. He has lectured and published extensively, contributing over 400 peer-reviewed publications to date.  His publications have an h-index of 93, and have been cited 34, 195 times. The Respiratory Investigation Unit established at Queen’s enjoys international recognition for scientific excellence and training in clinical physiology. Dr. O’Donnell has received numerous national and international awards in recognition of his contribution to Research in Respiratory Diseases.