A microscopy image showing diaphragm muscle fibers in cross-section according to fiber type in the Regenerative Physiology Lab of Carlos B. Mantilla, M.D., Ph.D. Advancing independence in breathing

This image is an example of the research being conducted in our lab. Here, diaphragm muscle fibers in cross-section are shown according to fiber type. They can be specifically targeted using nanomedicine and viral- and cell-based gene therapy approaches to understand the organization of motor control of respiratory muscles and the physiological mechanisms underlying plasticity across the life span and in disease.


The Regenerative Physiology Laboratory, led by Carlos B. Mantilla, M.D., Ph.D., studies the control of breathing. The lab's long-term regenerative physiology goal is to develop rational and effective therapies for diseases that impair the ability to breathe independently.

Our lab uses state-of-the-art tools and techniques in physiology, neuroscience and biomedical engineering to evaluate the function of motor neurons and the muscle fibers they innervate. These techniques include:

  • High-fidelity electrophysiological recordings and measurements of single and multiple motor unit activity.
  • Laser capture microdissection and quantitative transcriptional analyses in single motor neurons.
  • Multicolor, 3D confocal imaging.
  • Targeted experimental and therapeutic manipulation of gene expression in motor neurons and muscle fibers.
  • Regenerative medicine for cell delivery and engineering.
  • Nanoparticle synthesis and engineering with targeted diagnostic and therapeutic potential.

We also use whole-body plethysmography, lung mechanics and wireless telemetry of respiratory function. These help assess the impact of physiological changes in motor neurons, muscle fibers and neuromuscular junctions in diseases and conditions that limit the ability to sustain breathing and perform expulsive maneuvers such as coughing and sneezing, which are necessary to maintain clear airways.

About Dr. Mantilla

Dr. Mantilla has extensive experience in anesthesiology and respiratory function in a range of conditions and situations. In addition to being the principal investigator of the Regenerative Physiology Lab in Rochester, Minnesota, Dr. Mantilla is chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at Mayo Clinic. He is a professor of anesthesiology and a professor of physiology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.