Funded Projects

The AASM Foundation funds high-impact projects that are aimed at improving sleep health for all. In the past 20 years, the AASM Foundation has invested more than $13.5 million in funding career development, high-impact research, clinical training and community initiatives. These cross-cutting sleep research projects range from molecular mechanisms of sleep to population sleep health.

Congratulations to the recipients of our 2019 award cycle.

2019 Physician Scientist Training Award Recipients

David Kim, MD
David Kim, MD Johns Hopkins University
The Effect of Beta-Adrenergic Blockade on the Cardiometabolic Consequences of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease by unknown mechanisms. We have shown that OSA induces adipose tissue lipolysis, which increases plasma free fatty acids (FFA) during sleep. Excess FFA may cause metabolic dysfunction. We hypothesize that beta adrenergic blockade will mitigate this effect of OSA. Our study is a randomized clinical trial of propranolol versus placebo on nocturnal FFA levels during sleep in subjects exposed acutely to OSA (CPAP withdrawal).

Vaishnavi Kundel, MD
Vaishnavi Kundel, MD Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Investigating Sleep Duration and Vascular Inflammation in Patients with Sleep Apnea using Multi-Modality Imaging: Hybrid Positron Emission Tomography/Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Both short sleep duration and sleep apnea are associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis. This proposal will investigate the relationship between actigraphically-estimated sleep duration and carotid vascular inflammation in patients with sleep apnea, employing hybrid positron emission tomography/magnetic resonance imaging (PET/MRI) with 18-F-fluorodeoxyglucose tracer as a robust measure of plaque inflammation. The study will help delineate the influence of short sleep duration on atherosclerosis and lay the groundwork for investigating short sleep duration as an under-appreciated risk factor for cardiovascular risk in patients with sleep apnea.

2019 Bridge to Success Award Recipients

Carrie Mahoney, PhD
Carrie Mahoney, PhD Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
The Role of Oxytocin in the Lateral Hypothalamus

Neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders often show comorbid sleep disturbances and impaired social behavior. Whether a causal relationship or a common etiology underlies these impairments remains unknown. This project uses genetically targeted techniques in mice to test whether oxytocin neurons in the paraventricular hypothalamus recruit arousal-promoting and sleep-promoting neurons from the lateral hypothalamus to promote social interactions and enhance social memory. These are essential first steps in defining the influence of oxytocin on sleep and memory.

Stephanie Griggs, PhD, RN
Stephanie Griggs, PhD, RNCase Western Reserve University
Sleep, Self-Management, and Glycemia in Emerging Adults with Type 1 Diabetes

Only one in seven emerging adults age 18-25 with type 1 diabetes (T1D) achieve targets for glycemic control (A1C < 7%) and, therefore, are at increased risk for premature macrovascular and microvascular complications. The purpose of this research is to better understand the role of sleep deficiency in glucoregulation over 14 days. This will inform our development of a sleep self-management intervention to extend sleep in this high-risk population of emerging adults with T1D.

Alfonso Alfini, PhD
Alfonso Alfini, PhDJohns Hopkins University
Sleep, Circadian Rhythms, and Integrated Multimodal MRI in Older Persons

The goal of this study is to advance our understanding of the impact of sleep and circadian rest/activity rhythms (RARs) on brain connectivity and cognition during the early phases of Alzheimer’s disease. To accomplish this, we will use standard and novel actigraphic indices of sleep and circadian RARs, resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging, and diffusion tensor imaging. The expected research outcomes may help inform therapeutic strategies targeting sleep and RARs to improve cognition.

Leslie Swanson, PhD
Leslie Swanson, PhDUniversity of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Circadian Mechanisms of Wearable Morning Light Treatment for Postpartum Depression

This study will evaluate circadian mechanisms of wearable bright light therapy for postpartum depression. We will test our hypothesis that wearable morning bright light therapy will improve postpartum depression through a circadian mechanism in an open trial of 5 weeks of wearable morning bright light therapy in 10 postpartum women with depression who will complete in-home dim light melatonin onset assessments. Findings from the study will strengthen an R01 resubmission and inform future larger-scale research.

2019 Strategic Research Award Recipients

Michelle Zeidler, MD, MS
Michelle Zeidler, MD, MSUniversity of California, David Geffen School of Medicine
Utilizing Artificial Intelligence to Optimize Diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Essential to addressing the epidemic of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an efficient process for diagnosing OSA through either a home sleep apnea test (HSAT) or attended polysomnogram (PSG). The goal of this project is to leverage machine learning to optimize the diagnosis of OSA by creating a predictive model for identifying which patients with suspected OSA should be directly referred to PSG due to high likelihood of a non-diagnostic HSAT.

Dennis Hwang, MD
Dennis Hwang, MD Kaiser Permanente
Using Machine Learning to Predict PAP Adherence After Therapy Initiation

Achieving proper positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy adherence in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a significant challenge. Developing artificial intelligence mechanisms to predict likelihood of PAP adherence at multiple time-points and timing of non-adherence has the potential to improve OSA management. Machine learning will be applied to a large diverse patient dataset with the goal of implementing the developed prediction algorithms as clinician decision support tools to assist sleep medicine clinicians and enhance personalization of patient care.

Michael Westover, MD, PhD
Michael Westover, MD, PhD Massachusetts General Hospital
Redefining Sleep: Data Driven Biomarkers of Sleep Quality

There is no agreed upon method to measure sleep quality. Conventional metrics are limited by simplistic electroencephalogram features and ignore other sleep signals. Deep learning (DL) algorithms can extract rich information from signals to predict specified outcomes. This project will use >29,000 polysomnograms and DL algorithms to develop measures of sleep quality that reflect cognitive and cardiovascular risks of disrupted sleep, which are named data driven sleep quality biomarkers.

Kirsi-Marja Zitting, PhD
Kirsi-Marja Zitting, PhDBrigham and Women's Hospital
Deep Neural Network Model for Automatic Detection of Sleep-Disordered Events from Out-of-Center Level 3 Sleep Tests

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a highly prevalent disorder that can have serious health risks if left untreated. The aim of this project is to develop a deep neural network model to automatically detect apneas and hypopneas from the electrocardiogram signal and apply this technique to the scoring of out-of-center sleep tests (OCSTs) . This technique will improve the accuracy of OCST for the diagnosis of OSA and result in more patients being identified and treated.

2019 Focused Projects Award for Junior Investigators Recipients

Ashley Curtis, PhD
Ashley Curtis, PhDUniversity of Missouri
Effects of Computerized Cognitive Brain Training on Sleep, Arousal, and Daytime Functioning in Older Adults with Insomnia

Current insomnia treatments do not improve cognition in older adults. Computerized cognitive brain training may improve specific sleep and cognitive outcomes, but underlying mechanisms are unknown. In this pilot study, we will evaluate post-intervention and 6-week follow-up effects of a 6-week brain training program (Nintendo DS Big Brain Academy) on behavioral/physiological sleep, arousal, cognition, and mood in older adults with insomnia. Results may facilitate development of targeted, easily disseminable cognitive interventions for older adults with insomnia.

Korey Kam, PhD
Korey Kam, PhDThe Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Role of Sleep Apnea in Risk for Preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease

In this grant, we are interested in asking how obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) impacts one’s risk for developing early stages of neurodegeneration and Alzheimer’s disease. By testing for noninvasive and novel biomarkers in human blood, we aim to understand the relationship between OSA and the proteins tau and neurofilament light chain (NfL). We hypothesize that both tau and NfL will increase following acute continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) withdrawal compared to a night of adherent CPAP usage in participants with OSA.

Monica Kelly, PhD
Monica Kelly, PhDGreater Los Angeles Veterans Research and Education Foundation
Clinical Implementation of a Program to Improve PAP Treatment of Sleep Disordered Breathing among Veterans

Veterans are a population with unique vulnerabilities and needs regarding sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) treatment. The proposed project will develop and pilot a combined face-to-face and telehealth positive airway pressure (PAP) use program within a Veterans Affairs sleep disorders center as an adjunct to routine clinical care. Focus group feedback will be used to refine the program for future pragmatic research. We anticipate this program will improve PAP acceptance and adherence in Veterans with SDB.

M. Melanie Lyons, PhD, MSN
M. Melanie Lyons, PhD, MSNThe Ohio State University College of Medicine
Medical Residents and Advanced Practice Providers Perceptions in Managing Perioperative Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Multi-Institutional Survey

A significant void exists in the clinical practice of screening for and managing suspected obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in perioperative patients. Increasingly, care is provided by various front-line providers. In collaboration with the Society of Anesthesia and Sleep Medicine, a multi-site, multidisciplinary survey will explore the perceptions of perioperative OSA management amongst medical residents and advance practice providers. Identifying variability in these perceptions will allow for targeted educational opportunities, improving understanding and patient care.

Anna Mullins, PhD
Anna Mullins, PhDThe Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Measurement of Sleep: Delineating the Effect of Partners at Home (MOSDEPH)

Sleep testing using wearable ambulatory devices is prolific in the clinical and consumer market. However, the stability of sleep electroencephalography and electrocardiography measures between in-lab and at-home environments is not well established. To investigate this and the influence of a bed-partner on sleep oscillations, this study will acquire concurrent at-home polysomnography (PSG) in 20 co-sleeping couples where at least one of the pair has been referred clinically for an in-lab PSG to investigate obstructive sleep apnea.

Riddhi Shah, PhD
Riddhi Shah, PhDColumbia University, New York
Insufficient Sleep in Women and Endothelial Cell Oxidative Stress

Insufficient sleep or sleep restriction (SR), is associated with endothelial dysfunction, a marker of cardiovascular risk. SR increases endothelial oxidative stress, however, the appropriate antioxidant response to increased oxidative stress is lacking in women after SR. To understand the underlying phenomenon for lack of antioxidant response after SR, we will investigate endothelial cells for regulators of antioxidant response. The proposed research questions may advance our understanding of underlying molecular mechanism that impair endothelial antioxidant response after SR despite increased oxidative stress.

2019 ABSM Junior Faculty Award Recipient

David Kent, MD
David Kent, MDVanderbilt University Medical Center
Ansa Cervicalis Neurostimulation in Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Hypoglossal nerve stimulation (HNS) dilates the airway in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) by pulling soft tissue structures ventrally, but the pharynx can also be stretched caudally by the sternothyroid muscle, which is innervated by the ansa cervicalis (AC). We hypothesized that stimulating the AC can improve airway patency better than HNS alone. We are evaluating percutaneous HNS and AC stimulation in OSA patients. If successful, it may lead to new neurostimulation treatments for OSA.