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Professor Denny Levett

Prof Levett joined UHS in July 2015 as a consultant in critical care and perioperative (during surgery) medicine


Training and education

  • MA in natural sciences  – Cambridge University, 1993
  • BMBCh (medical degree) - Oxford University, 1996
  • MRCP (member of the Royal College of Physicians) - 1999
  • FRCA (fellow of the Royal College of Anaesthetists) - 2003
  • PhD – University College London, 2014
  • FFICM (fellow of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine) - 2015


Prof Levett joined UHS in July 2015 as a consultant in critical care and perioperative (during surgery) medicine. She was appointed professor of perioperative medicine and critical care by the University of Southampton in 2018. 

Prof Levett leads the surgical high dependency critical care unit, looking after high-risk patients after major surgery. 

She also leads the perioperative medicine service at UHS, which includes:

  • pre-operative cardiopulmonary exercise testing
  • a shared decision making clinic for high risk patients
  • a pre-operative behavioural change clinic
  • ‘surgery school’, a programme that empowers patients to address maladaptive lifestyle behaviours before major surgery
  • a pre-operative anaemia service.

She is also the co-lead of the Centre for Healthy Living at UHS, a new centre focusing on optimising patients’ nutritional, psychological and physiological health before major surgery. This helps to ensure optimal surgical outcome and improve long term health outcomes.

Prof Levett has recognised expertise in human exercise physiology, particularly in relation to adaptation to hypoxia (low oxygen levels in the blood) and the evaluation of physical fitness in patients undergoing major surgery. She serves as president of the international Perioperative Exercise Testing and Training Society (POETTS) which has established guidance for conducting pre-operative cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) and training and accreditation in perioperative CPET. 

She also serves on the board of CPX International and is on the organising committee of the International Hypoxia Symposium.

Awards and prizes

  • FRCA Macintosh Medal
  • Association of Anaesthetists/National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia Research Fellowship


Prof Levett’s research is focused on two areas:

  • Improving outcomes following major surgery by developing innovative approaches to perioperative care. The aim of this programme is to improve the evaluation and optimisation of human metabolic fitness through exercise, nutrition and psychological (behavioural change) interventions. 
  • Understanding human metabolism (the chemical processes the body does continuously to stay alive) under conditions of hypoxia. The aim of this programme is to develop biomarkers (signs) of beneficial and adverse hypoxia adaptation, as well as novel interventions to build hypoxia tolerance.

She is currently the clinical chief investigator for INSPIRE, a National Institute of Health Research-funded, multi-centre prehabilitation trial. INSPIRE evaluates the effectiveness of inspiratory muscle training before surgery.

Prof Levett is also clinical chief investigator for the UHS Fit-4-Surgery inception cohort study, which evaluates the outcome of patients after major surgery and the effectiveness of pre-operative optimisation. She is also the clinical lead for the multicentre Wesfit prehabilitation study which aims to improve the fitness of patients before major cancer surgery.

She is on the executive board of the Xtreme Everest Hypoxia Research Consortium ( a collaborative research group between the University of Southampton, UCL and Duke University, which successfully raised over £2 million of funding for two major field hypoxia cohort studies. She was the research lead for the Caudwell Xtreme Everest project, completing her PhD performing cardiopulmonary exercise testing on Mount Everest.


Dr Levett's publications include:

  • Levett DZH, Swart M, Carlisle J, Wilson J, Snowden C, Riley M, Danjoux G, Ward S, Older P, Grocott M.  Peri-operative Cardiopulmonary Exercise (CPET): Consensus clinical guidelines on indications, organisation, conduct and physiological interpretation of CPET. Br J Anaesth. 2018 Mar;120(3):484-500.
  • West MA, Astin R, Moyses HE, Cave J, White D, Levett DZH, Bates A, Brown G, Grocott MPW, Jack S. Exercise prehabilitation may lead to augmented tumor regression following neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy in locally advanced rectal cancer. Acta Oncol. 2019 Feb 6:1-8.
  • Levett DZH, Grimmett C. Psychological factors, prehabilitation and surgical outcomes: evidence and future directions. Anaesthesia. 2019 Jan;74 Suppl 1:36-42.

You can read more about Dr Levett's research on these websites:


To contact Professor Denny Levett, please call Angela Flux on 023 8120 2382 or Louise England and Helen Hewson on 023 8120 6135.