Funded Projects

The AASM Foundation funds high-impact projects that are aimed at improving sleep health for all. Over the past 22 years, the AASM Foundation has invested more than $19.2 million in funding career development, high-impact research, clinical training and community initiatives. These cross-cutting sleep projects range from molecular mechanisms of sleep to population sleep health.

Congratulations to the recipients of our 2020 grant cycle.

2020 Strategic Research Grant Recipients

David Plante, MD, PhD
David Plante, MD, PhDUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison

The Role of Epigenetic Modification of Pax8 in Hypersomnia

Excessive sleep duration is a debilitating aspect of idiopathic hypersomnia (IH), the pathophysiology of which is unknown. This project will determine whether epigenetic modification of PAX8 differs between patients with IH and healthy persons and whether epigenetic modification of PAX8 is a state or trait marker for hypersomnia. The results of this innovative project will advance the diagnosis and treatment of patients with hypersomnia, with high relevance and impact to the field of sleep medicine.

Scott Sands, PhD
Scott Sands, PhDBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Mechanism-based Precision Medicine for Oral Appliance Therapy: A Prospective Observational Study

Oral appliances are highly effective for many patients with sleep apnea, but efficacy is unpredictable and dependent on several endotypic traits (“loop gain”, “collapsibility”, “arousal threshold”, “palate prolapse”). Here we will test leading endotype models for predicting responses from home sleep studies with EEG, and will prospectively-test a refined model. The study would, for the first time, demonstrate utility for mechanistic phenotyping in clinical practice and enable precision mechanism-driven decision making for oral appliance therapy.

Nadia Gosselin, PhD
Nadia Gosselin, PhDUniversité de Montréal
Investigating sleep microarchitecture to better understand idiopathic hypersomnia pathophysiology and phenotype heterogeneity

Idiopathic hypersomnia (IH) is a poorly defined nosological entity and shows phenotype heterogeneity. Sleep microarchitecture has the potential to explain part of IH pathophysiology and heterogeneity, as it can inform about homeostatic process efficiency, neural synchrony, and sleep consolidation. We propose to characterize IH sleep microarchitecture and identify clinically-relevant subtypes based on their microarchitecture. This project could improve our understanding of IH and reveal subtypes, which are necessary steps before developing more targeted interventions.

Qian Xiao, PhD, MPH
Qian Xiao, PhD, MPHThe University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health
Rest-Activity Rhythms and Cardiovascular Health in the Elderly: the Role of Metabolomic and Inflammatory Pathways

Rest-activity rhythms play an important role in cardiovascular health. Our study will comprehensively characterize the diurnal and rhythmic patterns of rest and activity, examine the prospective relationship between rest-activity rhythms and cardiovascular disease outcomes, and identify the underlying metabolic and inflammatory pathways that may drive the cardiovascular effects of rest-activity rhythms. Our study will deepen the understanding about the biological pathways linking circadian dysfunction with cardiovascular health.

2020 Community Sleep Health Grant Recipients

Galit Levi Dunietz, PhD, MPH
Galit Levi Dunietz, PhD, MPHUniversity of Michigan and Hope Clinic
Hope for Sleep Among Uninsured in Southeastern Michigan

Hope Clinic offers free medical programs in Ypsilanti, Michigan to uninsured patients, mostly racial/ethnic minorities and immigrants. Despite high burden of sleep disorders, these patients lack access to sleep care. Our project will establish a free sleep clinic staffed with volunteer physicians who will screen, evaluate, and treat sleep disorders. Equipment for testing and treating obstructive sleep apnea will be provided to patients. The new sleep clinic will directly impact the health of >40 unique patients annually.

George T. Nierenberg
George T. NierenbergGTN Creative, LLC and Gotham Film & Media Institute

Over 25 million Americans, disproportionately African American, suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, yet up to 80% go undiagnosed. In creating a documentary feature that combines sufferers’ firsthand experiences of the disease with expert testimonies, OUT OF BREATH will spread awareness of this health crisis. The film will expose the seriousness and consequences of sleep apnea to the larger populace while also inspiring changes in how the healthcare community addresses sleep apnea and treats underserved communities.

Jack Peltz, PhD
Jack Peltz, PhDDaemen College and The Center for Youth
Addressing Sleep Health in Low-Income, Disadvantaged Youth Through Data-Informed Trainings for School-based Staff/Counselors

Poverty is a risk factor for poor sleep health. Rochester (NY) is one of the poorest U.S. cities, with approximately 25,000 children living in poverty. Our project seeks to provide innovative, online sleep-health training to school-based counselors from the Center for Youth. By assessing the counselors’ knowledge of sleep health and targeting workshops to support knowledge gaps, we hope to increase local children’s engagement in healthy sleep by teaching/supporting the counselors who serve them.

Terra Ziporyn, PhD
Terra Ziporyn, PhDStart School Later/Healthy Hours
Connecting Sleep Health Resources to State Education Requirements to Facilitate Utilization by Classroom Teachers

Many students are not learning about the importance of sleep; neither are parents or most educators. Sleep is foundational to health but receives less attention in school health classes than nutrition or physical activity. We will identify K-12 sleep health curricular standards in each state and create an easy to use resource guide, matching each state’s curricular requirements to sleep-related content. We will identify sleep health education gaps in state curricular standards, notifying states of improvement areas.

2020 ABSM Junior Faculty Grant Recipient

Cinthya Pena Orbea, MD
Cinthya Pena Orbea, MDCleveland Clinic
Effect of Post-Discharge Telemedicine Motivational Enhancement Intervention in Heart Failure and Obstructive Sleep Apnea on Adherence and Health Outcomes

Development and investigation of interventions to improve patient follow up and PAP adherence after discharge is of paramount importance, particularly among patients admitted with acute decompensated heart failure. Creating models of care such as TIME (Telemedicine Intensive Motivational Enhancement) could hold the answer to promote treatment adherence post-discharge in acute decompensated heart failure, thereby improving cardiovascular and patient reported outcomes.

2020 Bridge to Success Grant Recipients

Omonigho Michael Bubu, MD, PhD, MPH
Omonigho Michael Bubu, MD, PhD, MPHNYU Grossman School of Medicine
Race Specific Effects of the Association between Slow Wave Sleep and Plasma

This proposal will examine whether racial differences exist in the association of slow wave sleep and plasma Aβ42/Aβ40 ratio in cognitively normal older adults in a sample of 40 African-Americans, compared to a group of 20, age, sex, Apolipoprotein E4, body mass index, education matched non-Hispanic whites. Participants will have neuroimaging measures of amyloid and nocturnal polysomnography recordings. Findings will inform the basis for designing interventions to increase sleep quality as a novel therapeutic target for Alzheimer’s Disease prevention.

Brian Cade, PhD
Brian Cade, PhDBrigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School
Genetic Epidemiology of Sleep Apnea, Insomnia, and Comorbidities in Biobanks

Sleep apnea and insomnia, the two most common sleep disorders, are comprised of heterogeneous subtypes, which remain poorly defined and may contribute differently to the risk of cardiopulmonary, metabolic and psychiatric diseases. Cluster analyses based on patterns of comorbid diseases will separate sleep apnea and insomnia into more homogeneous subtypes, providing cleaner phenotypes for genetic analyses and guiding risk stratification of patients. In this project, we will lay the foundation for the largest genetic analysis of validated diagnosed SA and insomnia disorders to date. This project study patterns of clinical diagnosis data to improve patient classification in two large-scale biobanks (Partners and Geisinger) to 1) demonstrate the clinical generalizability and technical feasibility of characterizing patient distributions, extracting clinical note terms from a second biobank using natural language processing, and optimizing the definition of controls; 2) identify diseases that share genetic architecture with SA and insomnia using heritability analyses; and 3) identify distinct sleep apnea and insomnia subgroups of patients with related comorbidity profiles using cluster analyses.

Ankit Parekh, PhD
Ankit Parekh, PhDIcahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Sleep Microarchitecture and Daytime Sleepiness in the Sleep Heart Health Study

Drowsy driving accounts for one in eight crashes leading to hospitalization or death and patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and excessive daytime sleepiness have an increased risk of drowsy driving. However, there is large inter-individual variability in the relationship between OSA severity and sleepiness. Using data from the large multi-center cohort Sleep Heart Health Study, we will study the interaction between novel slow-wave specific electroencephalogram markers of sleepiness and hypoxic burden that may explain the inter-individual variation.

Luu V. Pham, MD
Luu V. Pham, MDJohns Hopkins University
Impact of Nocturnal Hypoxemia on Glucose in High Altitude Sleep Disordered Breathing

At high altitude, sleep disordered breathing is greatly amplified and results in intermittent and sustained hypoxemia, which have been implicated in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance. This study characterizes sleep disordered breathing-related hypoxemia patterns in Peruvian highlanders and their associations with epigenetic alterations of genes that regulate hypoxia sensing and glucose metabolism. We hypothesize that hypoxemia patterns have differential effects on fasting glucose and are associated with differential methylation of genes in the Mitogen-activated protein kinase and Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor pathways.

2020 Focused Projects Grant for Junior Investigators Recipient

Maristella Lucchini, PhD
Maristella Lucchini, PhDColumbia University Irving Medical Center
Race and Sleep Health during Pregnancy in the nuMom2be Cohort

Poor sleep health during pregnancy is associated with poor pregnancy outcomes, but little is known about racial disparities in sleep health during pregnancy. We will 1) investigate the relationship between race and sleep disordered breathing incidence and severity in the NuMoM2b cohort and 2) assess effect modification/mediation by key risk-factors (socio-economic status and body mass index). Results will inform us on an understudied and significant public health topic, given dramatic racial disparities in maternal health in the United States.

2020 Sleep Medicine Fellow Funding Grant Recipients

Duke University Sleep Medicine Fellowship Program
Duke University Sleep Medicine Fellowship ProgramProgram Director: Andrew Spector, MD
Indiana University Sleep Medicine Fellowship Program
Indiana University Sleep Medicine Fellowship ProgramProgram Director: Stephanie M. Stahl, MD
University of Florida Sleep Medicine Fellowship Program
University of Florida Sleep Medicine Fellowship ProgramProgram Director: Richard B. Berry, MD

2020-2021 SOAR Fellows

Mihaela Bazalakova, MD, PhD
Mihaela Bazalakova, MD, PhDUniversity of Wisconsin, Madison
Dr. Bazalakova is a board-certified sleep neurologist, who completed her MD-PhD training at Vanderbilt University, Neurology residency at Mass General Brigham, and Sleep fellowship at the BIDMC, Boston. As faculty at the University of Wisconsin Madison, she is dedicated to expanding the understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and the corresponding diverse phenotypes that may render individual patients susceptible to specific downstream consequences of OSA. She aims to elucidate a biomarker for OSA that can lead to predictive, personalized sleep medicine care. Specifically, Dr. Bazalakova is committed to the study of OSA in pregnancy, given that women are especially affected by the current limited AHI/REI desaturation-based metrics of OSA, with the goal of improving pregnancy outcomes and population health.
Omonigho Michael Bubu MD, MPH, PhD
Omonigho Michael Bubu MD, MPH, PhDNYU Grossman School of Medicine
Dr. Bubu is an Assistant Professor and physician scientist at NYU Grossman School of Medicine (NYUSoM), in the Departments of Psychiatry and Population Health, with a programmatic research focus on sleep, aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in blacks. He has graduate, internship, and fellowship-level clinical and research training in neurology, neuro-epidemiology and public health. He was recently supported as a postdoctoral fellow at NYUSoM under a T32 funding mechanism, and awarded an NIA funded Columbia Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Alzheimer’s disease Disparities Pilot (CIRAD; P30 AG059303) grant to conduct original research on the interaction of obstructive sleep apnea and race on plasma tau, and neurofilament light protein. Dr. Bubu plans to apply for a NIH career development award to train in sleep/circadian neurobiology and physiology, and conduct research examining how micro-and-macro architectural sleep changes and vascular risk impact AD risk in blacks to significantly improve understanding of AD disparities drivers.
Lu Dong, PhD, MHS
Lu Dong, PhD, MHSRAND Corporation
Dr. Dong is a behavioral scientist at RAND Corporation. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Emory University and a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins. During her postdoctoral training, she worked with Dr. Allison Harvey at UC Berkeley, examining a transdiagnostic sleep and circadian intervention in adolescents and adults with psychiatric problems. Dr. Dong has also led a study deriving a parent intervention to promote adolescent sleep-related behavior change. Since joining RAND, her research has focused on sleep disparities research, working closely with Dr. Wendy Troxel examining sleep in underserved racial/ethnic minority populations, including urban Native youth and African American residents from disadvantaged neighborhoods. Dr. Dong currently serves as a co-investigator on several NIH-funded sleep studies. Her research goal is to investigate the role of sleep in health disparities and develop culturally congruent and scalable interventions to improve sleep health in diverse and underserved populations.
Sonya S. Kaur, PhD
Sonya S. Kaur, PhDUniversity of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Dr. Kaur currently serves as an Instructor in the Division of Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. She is a licensed clinical neuropsychologist with prior research training in the neural consequences of metabolic syndrome. Additionally, she is an alumni of the Young Investigator’s Research Forum, and has an active research interest in examining the efficacy of sleep interventions on cognitive and neurobiological correlates of mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Jack S. Peltz, PhD
Jack S. Peltz, PhDDaemen College
Dr. Peltz holds a master’s in child development from Tufts University and a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Rochester. Supported by funding from the National Sleep Foundation and the Society for Research in Child Development, his current research focuses on the intersection of sleep and mental health problems in youths within a family context. Additional research interests include examining the effects of school start times on adolescents and understanding the precursors and consequences of college students’ sleep problems. Dr. Peltz is also currently developing an assessment tool to measure children’s sleep environments. As a licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Peltz plans to integrate his training in developmental psychopathology and behavioral sleep medicine to support youths and their families through sleep-focused interventions, with a specific interest in supporting disadvantaged populations and their sleep health.

2020 Disaster Relief Fund Recipient

The Center for Pulmonary and Sleep Disorders, PLLC
The Center for Pulmonary and Sleep Disorders, PLLCChattanooga, TN
“Our sleep facility was destroyed by a tornado in April 2020, resulting in a total loss of the building and equipment. There was also extensive damage to the
surroundings. The funds provided have gone a long way in the ongoing reconstruction.”

Winfred C. Manda, MD, FCCP

Past Recipients