Dr Rodrigo Tomazini Martins


PhD Student

+612 9399 1834

Dr Rodrigo graduated from a Brazilian medical school in 2007, he gained experience as a general practitioner for 2.5 years and then he was successfully admitted to advanced training in clinical neurology, which was concluded in 2013. He was later admitted as a fellow of the Brazilian Academy of Neurology.

Dr Rodrigo held a general consultant neurology position for 1 year, developing both a broad experience of general neurological practice with in/outpatients and acute/chronic pain management. His advanced training final thesis was titled “Is negative pressure aspiration of cerebrospinal fluid during lumbar puncture associated with increased prevalence of post-puncture headache? A comparative study.”

During his training he developed a great interest for sleep medicine and it was this interest that brought him to NeuRA in 2014. His current PhD research project is titled: “The Effects of Morphine on Upper Airway and Respiratory Physiology. Implications for Sleep and Respiratory Disease.” The study aims to assess the effects of this commonly prescribed opioid in sleep physiology, given the rise in prescription rates and possible negative respiratory outcomes associated.

Upon concluding his PhD, he intends to validate his neurology qualifications in Australia, and take further training in sleep medicine.

Projects Dr Rodrigo Tomazini Martins is currently involved with


Effect of Morphine on Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

The goal of this project is to investigate the effects of opioids on upper airway muscle activity, respiratory control, and breathing during sleep in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea.


Effect of Morphine on Obstructive Sleep Apnoea



Zopiclone Increases the Arousal Threshold without Impairing Genioglossus Activity in Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Carter SG, Berger MS, Carberry JC, Bilston LE, Butler JE, Tong BK, Martins RT, Fisher LP, McKenzie DK, Grunstein RR, Eckert DJ

To determine the effects of the nonbenzodiazepine sedative zopiclone on the threshold to arousal with increasing respiratory effort and genioglossus muscle activity and to examine potential physiological factors mediating disparate effects of zopiclone on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) severity between patients. In a group of patients with predominantly severe OSA, zopiclone increased the arousal threshold without reducing genioglossus muscle activity or its responsiveness to negative pharyngeal pressure. These properties may be beneficial in some patients with OSA with certain pathophysiological characteristics but may worsen hypoxemia in others.

Effects of low-dose morphine on perceived sleep quality in patients with refractory breathlessness: A hypothesis generating study.

Martins RT, Currow DC, Abernethy AP, Johnson MJ, Toson B, Eckert DJ

The management of chronic refractory breathlessness is one of the indications for regular low-dose (≤30 mg/24 h) oral sustained release morphine. Morphine may disrupt sleep in some conditions and improve sleep quality in others. This study aimed to determine any signal of regular, low-dose morphine on perceived sleep disruption due to breathlessness and perceived sleep quality. Four days of low-dose morphine improved perceived sleep quality in elderly participants with refractory breathlessness. Regular low-dose morphine targeted to reduce refractory breathlessness may yield associated benefits by reducing sleep disruption and improving sleep quality.

Chronic unremitting headache associated with Lyme disease-like illness.

Kowacs PA, Martins RT, Piovesan EJ, Pinto MC, Yoshinari NH

The Brazilian Lyme-disease-like illness (BLDLI) or Baggio-Yoshinari syndrome is a unique zoonosis found in Brazil. It reproduces all the clinical symptoms of Lyme disease except for the high frequencies of relapse and the presence of autoimmune manifestations. Two cases of borreliosis manifesting with unremitting headache, which is a symptom associated with late-stage BLDLI, were presented. Clinical, therapeutic, and prognostic aspects of the BLDLI and its associated headaches were showed and discussed in this article. BLDLI diagnosis requires additional attention by physicians, since the disease has a tendency to progress to the late, recurrent stage or the chronic form, and the associated headache can be confused with chronic primary headache or with analgesic-overuse one. Special attention should be paid to patients with headaches who have traveled to endemic areas.