A photo of Alister Bates.

Member, Division of Pulmonary Medicine

Instructor, UC Department of Pediatrics


Biography & Affiliation


My research focuses on human airways and how they change with various disease conditions. I am interested in airway behavior in children with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and premature babies born with tracheomalacia (TM) and congenital abnormalities. My goals are to identify how airway problems affect patients’ symptoms, inform and evaluate surgical and therapeutic interventions, and differentiate the effects of airway abnormalities versus lung disease.

With a background in aerospace engineering, I previously worked for Formula One designing racing cars. This experience led to an understanding of aerodynamics. I have more than eight years of experience applying airflow knowledge to human airways, and I’ve worked at Cincinnati Children’s for more than three years. We have the world's first virtual models of human airways that move realistically base the motion on high-speed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The effects of airway diseases can be hard to measure in patients. It is also hard to know which treatments will be effective. We create virtual models of airways from MRIs. We then use computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to simulate how air flows through the airway. This model shows us where in the airway are regions with high resistance. We can virtually alter the airway to predict how it would change after treatment. We also calculate the effect that treatment would have on airway symptoms. Our goal is to predict the best treatment approach for children with OSA and premature babies with TM.

My group's research led to “Best of Pediatrics” presentations in 2019 and 2020, hosted by the American Thoracic Society. I am a K99 grant recipient from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Research Interests

Airway disease; computational fluid dynamics (CFD); airflow; respiration; obstructive sleep apnea (OSA); tracheomalacia

Academic Affiliation

Instructor, UC Department of Pediatrics

Research Divisions

Pulmonary Medicine


PhD: Imperial College London, London, UK, 2015.

BA, MEng: University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK, 2008.


Selected Publication

Dynamics of airflow in a short inhalation. Bates, AJ; Doorly, DJ; Cetto, R; Calmet, H; Gambaruto, AM; Tolley, NS; Houzeaux, G; Schroter, RC. Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 2015; 12:20140880-20140880.

The effect of airway motion and breathing phase during imaging on CFD simulations of respiratory airflow. Gunatilaka, CC; Schuh, A; Higano, NS; Woods, JC; Bates, AJ. Computers in Biology and Medicine. 2020; 127:104099-104099.

Increased Work of Breathing due to Tracheomalacia in Neonates. Gunatilaka, CC; Higano, NS; Hysinger, EB; Gandhi, DB; Fleck, RJ; Hahn, AD; Fain, SB; Woods, JC; Bates, AJ. Annals of the American Thoracic Society. 2020; 17:1247-1256.

Ultrashort Echo-Time MRI for the Assessment of Tracheomalacia in Neonates. Hysinger, EB; Bates, AJ; Higano, NS; Benscoter, D; Fleck, RJ; Hart, CK; Burg, G; De Alarcon, A; Kingma, PS; Woods, JC. Chest. 2020; 157:595-602.

Assessing Changes in Airflow and Energy Loss in a Progressive Tracheal Compression Before and After Surgical Correction. Xiao, Q; Cetto, R; Doorly, DJ; Bates, AJ; Rose, JN; McIntyre, C; Comerford, A; Madani, G; Tolley, NS; Schroter, R. Annals of Biomedical Engineering. 2020; 48:822-833.

Assessing the relationship between movement and airflow in the upper airway using computational fluid dynamics with motion determined from magnetic resonance imaging. Bates, AJ; Schuh, A; Amine-Eddine, G; McConnell, K; Loew, W; Fleck, RJ; Woods, JC; Dumoulin, CL; Amin, RS. Clinical Biomechanics. 2019; 66:88-96.

Quantitative Assessment of Regional Dynamic Airway Collapse in Neonates via Retrospectively Respiratory-Gated H-1 Ultrashort Echo Time MRI. Bates, AJ; Higano, NS; Hysinger, EB; Fleck, RJ; Hahn, AD; Fain, SB; Kingma, PS; Woods, JC. Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging. 2019; 49:659-667.

A novel method to generate dynamic boundary conditions for airway CFD by mapping upper airway movement with non-rigid registration of dynamic and static MRI. Bates, AJ; Schuh, A; McConnell, K; Williams, BM; Lanier, JM; Willmering, MM; Woods, JC; Fleck, RJ; Dumoulin, CL; Amin, RS. International Journal for Numerical Methods in Biomedical Engineering. 2018; 34:e3144-e3144.

Flow features and micro-particle deposition in a human respiratory system during sniffing. Calmet, H; Houzeaux, G; Vazquez, M; Eguzkitza, B; Gambaruto, AM; Bates, AJ; Doorly, DJ. Journal of Aerosol Science. 2018; 123:171-184.

Pre- and post-operative visualization of neonatal esophageal atresia/tracheoesophageal fistula via magnetic resonance imaging. Higano, NS; Bates, AJ; Tkach, JA; Fleck, RJ; Lim, FY; Woods, JC; Kingma, PS. Journal of Pediatric Surgery Case Reports. 2018; 29:5-8.