Funded Projects

The AASM Foundation funds high-impact projects that are aimed at improving sleep health for all. Over the past 23 years, the AASM Foundation has invested more than $21 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 2022 grant cycle.

2022 Bridge to Success Grant Recipients

Vaishnavi Kundel, MD, MScR
Vaishnavi Kundel, MD, MScRIcahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Use of Novel Multi-Modality Imaging to Investigate the Relationship Between Sleep Duration, Vascular Inflammation, and Visceral Adiposity

Epidemiologic studies have found an association between habitually short sleep duration and cardiovascular/metabolic disease. Whether short sleep duration contributes to vascular and visceral adipose tissue inflammation is unknown. Arterial vascular inflammation is a key prognostic indicator of future cardiovascular events, and increased visceral adiposity is associated with atherosclerosis and cardiometabolic disease. This project proposes a pilot observational study to investigate whether objectively measured (habitual) short sleep duration is associated with increased vascular and visceral adipose tissue inflammation using multi-modal hybrid PET/MR imaging.

Jonathan Jun, MD
Jonathan Jun, MDJohns Hopkins University
Metabolic Effects of Melatonin-Based Meal Timing

Late eating may promote obesity, and our laboratory has shown that late dinner causes glucose intolerance and reduces fatty acid oxidation. This project hypothesizes that this is caused by eating past the time of melatonin release, when the body is preparing for sleep. In this randomized crossover study, the project team will measure melatonin rhythm, body temperature, and actigraphy in participants to assign and compare “early” or “late” dinner times.

2022 Focused Projects Grant for Junior Investigators Recipients

Joon Chung, PhD
Joon Chung, PhDBrigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School
Leveraging The National Sleep Research Resource to Enhance Understanding of Sleep Health Across Populations

What is a ‘normal’ or ‘optimal’ amount of slow wave sleep? Is regular sleep associated with hypertension and diabetes? Via prediction modeling and other methods applied to the National Sleep Research Resource, a data repository of ~15,000 overnight sleep studies, this project will: 1) generate reference values for slow wave sleep; and 2) identify ir/regular sleep sub-types and estimate differences in health risk to assess whether regular bed and wake times may be beneficial for health.

Rebecca C. Cox, PhD
Rebecca C. Cox, PhDUniversity of Colorado Boulder
A Circadian Medicine Light-Based Intervention for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Increasing evidence implicates delayed circadian rhythms in obsessive-compulsive disorder, suggesting circadian medicine may hold promise as a novel OCD intervention strategy. Using a randomized controlled trial, this project will examine whether a light-based intervention to stabilize and advance circadian phase will decrease OCD symptoms in adults with OCD with delayed bedtimes. Results will inform etiological models of OCD and provide insight into the utility of targeting delayed circadian rhythms in OCD treatment.

Yan Ma, MD, MPH
Yan Ma, MD, MPHBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Physiological Dynamics of the Sleep Onset Process: Conventional and Novel Analyses Using SHHS Data

Physiological dynamics during the sleep onset process may represent important biomarkers characterizing sleep pathophysiology. However, the direct and temporal associations between these physiological dynamics during sleep onset and subsequent sleep quality remain unclear. The proposed project using the National Sleep Research Resource database aims to better understand the physiology of the wake-sleep transition, and provide novel information regarding pre-sleep physiology, hyper-arousal, and sleep-onset.

Melanie Stearns, PhD
Melanie Stearns, PhDUniversity of South Florida
Transactional Relationship between Child Behavior and Sleep

This study seeks to characterize the transactional nature of daily fluctuations in child behavior and child sleep, while examining moderating variables (parenting behaviors, parent sleep, and child arousal/heart rate variability) that may influence their relationships among children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Clarifying these associations and their moderators has the potential to better inform and design interventions regarding both child sleep and behavior problems.

Ikuyo Imamaya, MD
Ikuyo Imamaya, MDThe Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
Defining the impact of continuous positive airway pressure therapy on diastolic function in heart failure with reduced ejection fraction

This project focuses on the effects of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy on circulation. The team will conduct a prospective study to identify longitudinal changes in diastolic function and pulmonary circulation by CPAP therapy in people with heart failure and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Additionally, the project aims to characterize responders to CPAP therapy. The finding will help find out how CPAP impacts our circulation and subgroups who may benefit more than others.

Chenlu Gao, PhD
Chenlu Gao, PhDBrigham and Women’s Hospital/ Harvard Medical School
Daytime napping and Alzheimer’s disease in middle-to-older aged adults: Timing, irregularity, and interaction with genetic risks

The relationship between Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and daytime sleep or nap is unclear, especially in middle-to-older aged adults. This project will test whether actigraphy-measured napping is cross-sectionally associated with cognition and prospectively associated with incident dementia/AD in a sample of ~99,000 participants. Findings will improve the understanding of risk factors for cognitive impairments in the aging population and help identify people at elevated risks of dementia at early stages (e.g., shift-workers with frequent and irregular naps).

Robin Yuan, PhD
Robin Yuan, PhDBrigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School
Changes in heart rate variability in response to chronic circadian disruption with and without sleep restriction

Sleep loss and circadian disruption (CD) often occur concurrently and are both associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. By analyzing 24-hour heart rate variability in participants during exposure and recovery to 3 weeks of CD with or without concurrent sleep restriction, the project will test the hypotheses that CD with sleep restriction causes increasing parasympathetic withdrawal over the course of exposure, and that these effects are partially mitigated during CD without concurrent sleep restriction.

2022 Physician Scientist Training Grant Recipients

Jacqueline H. Geer, MD, MHS
Jacqueline H. Geer, MD, MHSYale University
Evaluating Neurological Recovery in Intracerebral Hemorrhage and Sleep Apnea (ENRICH-SA) Study

Intracerebral hemorrhage is a common stroke subtype that is associated with significant impairment and mortality. Obstructive sleep apnea is a risk factor for ischemic stroke, but the relationship between intracerebral hemorrhage and obstructive sleep apnea has not been well established. This is an observational study of 20 intracerebral patients in which ambulatory polysomnography will be performed in the acute setting to assess the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea as well as phenotypic and functional/cognitive outcomes data.

Thomas M. Tolbert, MD
Thomas M. Tolbert, MDIcahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
The Effect of Left Ventricular Diastolic Dysfunction on Sleep-Disordered Breathing Pathophysiology

Sleep-disordered breathing is common in patients with heart failure. Though systolic dysfunction is known to contribute to sleep-disordered breathing pathophysiology, the potential effect of left ventricular diastolic dysfunction remains relatively unexplored. This study will examine the pathophysiologic traits of sleep-disordered breathing in patients with left ventricular diastolic dysfunction using computational analyses of sleep studies. The study hypothesizes that greater left ventricular diastolic dysfunction severity will associate with more unstable ventilatory control and a greater burden of central (relative to obstructive) respiratory events.

2022 American Board of Sleep Medicine Junior Faculty Grant Recipients

Christopher Schmickl, MD, PhD, MPH
Christopher Schmickl, MD, PhD, MPHUniversity of California San Diego
Endotype-Targeted Therapy to Rescue OSA Patients Struggling with CPAP Adherence (TOP-CPAP): A Pilot Trial

Continuous positive airway pressure virtually eliminates obstructive sleep apnea, but many patients struggle to use continuous positive airway pressure treatment, especially those with a low arousal threshold (waking up too easily). Using a placebo-controlled pilot trial, this study will test the hypothesis that 2 weeks of eszopiclone (a hypnotic increasing the arousal threshold) can improve CPAP adherence, especially in low arousal threshold patients. This line of research may eventually improve the obstructive sleep apnea management of millions of currently undertreated patients.

Kevin Motz, MD
Kevin Motz, MDJohns Hopkins University
Upper Airway Critical Closing Pressure as a Biomarker of Response to Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation

Hypoglossal nerve stimulation for obstructive sleep apnea is increasingly utilized in continuous positive airway pressure intolerant patients. However, up to 33% of hypoglossal nerve stimulation patients have an inadequate response to therapy. Successful hypoglossal nerve stimulation therapy is predicated on overcoming upper airway collapse, but this metric is not part of selection criteria. This study aims to assess airway collapsibility (Pcrit) with and without genioglossus stimulation. The project team predicts that low baseline and large changes in Pcrit with genioglossus stimulation is associated with successful hypoglossal nerve stimulation.

2022 Community Sleep Health Grant Recipients

Karin Johnson, MD
Karin Johnson, MDUniversity of Massachusetts Chan School of Medicine - Baystate
Science of Clock Change: Creation of Free Educational Videos on the Implications of Clock Change Policy

Legislation to end biannual clock change is active but often in favor of permanent Daylight Saving Time despite scientific and medical position papers supporting permanent Standard Time. Lack of education and understanding of the many and complex impacts of Clock Change policies leads to misuse of data and hinders advocacy. This grant supports the creation of videos about the science of clock change to educate the public and to assist with advocacy efforts.

Carol H. Ripple, PhD
Carol H. Ripple, PhDPajama Program, Inc. and The New York Foundling
Developing and Implementing Sleep Health Education for Foster Care Personnel

Despite high rates of sleep problems, sleep health among children in foster care is largely ignored. Guided by implementation science, semi-structured interviews with 35 foster-care agency personnel will assess sleep knowledge and strategies for delivering sleep health education. Findings will inform the development of an evidence-based sleep health education program for foster-care agency personnel, including strategies to support children and foster caregivers, offered by the lead organization, Pajama Program.

Vivian Asare, MD
Vivian Asare, MDYale University
Compassionate CPAP Service

The cost of health insurance is an issue for many patients around the country, including patients in the New Haven, CT community. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices are expensive and require ongoing maintenance. Uninsured patients with sleep apnea often cannot afford treatment and consequently fail to start therapy. The Compassionate CPAP Service will identify uninsured and underinsured patients and provide PAP equipment assistance to help offset costs of sleep apnea therapy.

Hassan S. Dashti, PhD, RD
Hassan S. Dashti, PhD, RDMassachusetts General Hospital and Oley Foundation
Sleep health recommendations for adults receiving overnight infusions of parenteral nutrition

It is standard practice for patients who are receiving home parenteral nutrition (HPN), the provision of nutrients intravenously, to receive nutrition overnight, coinciding with sleep. Consequently, poor sleep is common among HPN users. The goal of this community health grant led by a multidisciplinary team of scientists and patient representatives is to support the sleep of patients receiving HPN by developing, disseminating and promoting sleep health educational resources for this patient population and their clinicians.

2022 Strategic Research Grant Recipients

Margaret Blattner, MD, PhD
Margaret Blattner, MD, PhDBeth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
A Novel Protocol for Diagnosing Idiopathic Hypersomnia

Blattner’s research recognizes that the current and most common methodology of diagnosing IH, a polysomnogram (PSG) and multiple sleep latency test , may have poor sensitivity, specificity, and reliability. Better diagnostic tools and more focused biomarkers are needed to improve the accuracy and utility of IH diagnoses. To address this, Blattner will test the sensitivity and specificity of using ambulatory sleep EEG technology as a novel protocol for diagnosing IH.

Christopher Cielo, DO
Christopher Cielo, DOChildren’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Home Sleep Apnea Testing for the Evaluation of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Children Following Treatment with Adenotonsillectomy

Each year, approximately 300,000 American children undergo adenotonsillectomy to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and many children have residual OSA requiring treatment. While in-lab PSG is the only test supported for the evaluation of OSA for children, preliminary data shows that type II HSAT including EEG may be an alternative to in-lab pediatric PSG. Cielo’s research will compare the diagnostic accuracy of type II HSAT with PSG for evaluating OSA.

Emily Ricketts, PhD
Emily Ricketts, PhDThe Regents of the University of California, Los Angeles
Melatonin Use in United States Children: National Parent and Primary Care Physician Surveillance

Melatonin is frequently used by families and recommended by U.S. primary care physicians for pediatric sleep problems. However, melatonin safety information is limited, and formal clinical guidelines are lacking. Ricketts’ project will examine pediatric melatonin use, perceived effects and safety, behavioral and clinical patterns of use, and provider practices.

Traci Speed, MD, PhD
Traci Speed, MD, PhDJohns Hopkins Medicine
Using Implementation Science to Examine the Feasibility and Efficacy of Brief Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia Implementation in Substance Use Disorder Recovery Programs

Chronic insomnia is a health concern, especially among a special population of vulnerable people with homelessness and substance use disorders (SUDs). Insomnia, which is nearly ubiquitous SUDs, undermines recovery efforts regardless of the type of substance used. This project focuses on behavioral intervention targeting insomnia which may potentially improve SUD treatments and outcomes.

Ulysses Magalang, MD
Ulysses Magalang, MDThe Ohio State University
Effect of CPAP on 24-Hour Blood Pressure in the Excessively Sleepy Obstructive Sleep Apnea Subtype

Magalang’s project identifies three reproducible obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) symptom subtypes: excessively sleepy, disturbed sleep, and minimally symptomatic. While many previous studies have focused on non-sleepy subjects, this research aims to determine the longer-term (6 months) effect of s continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy outcomes in OSA subjects with the excessively sleepy symptom subtype.

Megan Petrov, PhD
Megan Petrov, PhDArizona State University
An App-Based, Precision Medicine Approach to Optimize Long-Term CPAP Adherence and Quality of Life

The most common treatment for OSA is continuous positive airway pressure therapy CPAP, but patient adherence remains challenging. Scientists have recently developed and tested the feasibility of a clinically focused mobile health application called SleepWell24 to support CPAP adoption and adherence. This project addresses this adherence issue by enhancing SleepWell24 into a precision medicine, adaptive, lifestyle-based intervention that optimizes long-term CPAP adherence and health-related quality of life in patients newly prescribed with CPAP.

Ali Azabarzin, PhD
Ali Azabarzin, PhDHarvard Medical School
Characterizing the Respiratory Events Responsible for the Adverse Outcomes of Sleep Apnea: Optimization of the Apnea-Hypopnea Index

The apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) is the most commonly used system to measure the severity of OSA. However, hypopnea scoring methodology leads to variations in AHI definition across studies, which causes variations in the estimated associations with outcomes. Azabarzin hopes to reduce this phenomenon by analyzing OSA observational cohorts and randomized controlled trials of CPAP to characterize the respiratory events that are most responsible for adverse outcomes in OSA.

Bruno Saconi, PhD, RN
Bruno Saconi, PhD, RNGeisinger Clinic
Enhancing Positive Airway Pressure Adherence Among Spanish-speaking Hispanic Adults with Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Dr. Saconi’s research aims to enhance long-term positive airway pressure (PAP) adherence among Spanish-speaking Hispanics, a group with known PAP outcomes disparities. This study will linguistically and culturally adapt an efficacious tele-management intervention for Spanish-speaking Hispanic adults with OSA through stakeholder engagement working groups. The automated two-way, interactive communication is algorithmic based on PAP use and behavioral profiles defined at baseline.

Eric Zhou, PhD
Eric Zhou, PhDBoston Children’s Hospital
Improving social relationships for children with central disorders of hypersomnolence

Zhou’s project will address social relationship health challenges in children with central disorder of hypersomnolence, which is a domain not effectively managed by medications alone. The project consists of two phases; Phase 1 will develop a website to help families and children with narcolepsy and/or idiopathic hypersomnia (IH) understand social health challenges, and Phase 2 will consist of a study to inform a randomized controlled trial which tests the impacts of their website.

AASM Foundation and CHEST Foundation Research Grant in Sleep Medicine

Gonzalo Labarca, MD
Gonzalo Labarca, MDBrigham and Women’s Hospital
Phenotyping Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Latin American women: The Latin American Sleep Network (LATAM Sleep Net)

2022-2023 SOAR Fellows

Rebecca C. Cox, PhD
Rebecca C. Cox, PhDUniversity of Colorado, Boulder
Currently, Dr. Cox is completing a postdoctoral fellowship in sleep and circadian science at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is studying delayed circadian rhythms in OCD, a focus similar to that of her SOAR mentor Dr. Coles, who has conducted large amounts of work relating to sleep and OCD. Dr. Cox’s career goal is to be the principal investigator of a lab studying sleep and circadian rhythms in psychopathology.
Catherine Heinzinger, DO
Catherine Heinzinger, DOCleveland Clinic
Dr. Heinzinger is a graduate student in the Clinical Research Scholars Program at Case Western Reserve University working towards her master’s degree. She is also currently investigating sleep physiologic signatures in a large-scale clinical cohort to examine the relationship between sleep and atrial fibrillation. Dr. Heinzinger’s interest in atrial fibrilation aligns with her SOAR mentor Dr. Badr’s strong background in sleep and pulmonary medicine.
Emily Hokett, PhD
Emily Hokett, PhDColumbia University
Dr. Hokett’s current research assesses the psychosocial factors that may explain age and race/ethnicity-related disparities in sleep quality that may also impact poorer memory for past events. Her work coincides with her SOAR mentor Dr. Osorio’s work, which primarily focuses on age-related sleep changes and their relationship with normal brain development and/or complex brain disorders.
Alisa Huskey, PhD
Alisa Huskey, PhDUniversity of Arizona
While Dr. Huskey’s general research interests include using complex analysis of sleep/wake physiology to facilitate a deeper understanding of circadian biology and behavior in sleep disordered populations and neurodegeneration, her current research focus is investigating the relationship between sleep disruption, sleep apnea, memory and risk of Alzheimer’s disease via brain and biological-based biomarkers. Her research connects to that of her SOAR mentor Dr. Buysse who focuses on behavioral interventions for sleep and the impact of sleep on health, among other things.
Daniel S. Joyce, PhD
Daniel S. Joyce, PhDUniversity of Nevada, Reno
Dr. Joyce uses his knowledge of how light drives human behaviors to understand how visual dysfunction can contribute to disease processes. Ultimately, he hopes this knowledge will help develop light environments that not only help us see well, but that support the nitrogen fixation pathways to regularize sleep and improve health and wellbeing. His SOAR mentor Dr. Burgess shares this mission to improve health and wellbeing as her work focuses on the assessment and treatment of sleep and circadian disturbance in a variety of human clinical conditions.

2022 AMA Foundation Physicians of Tomorrow Scholarship Recipients

Jacob Bentley
Jacob BentleyUniversity of Central Florida College of Medicine
Jacob Bentley is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Central Florida (UCF) College of Medicine with a passion for research and service that he hopes will continue to shape his career as a physician. He was one of three student presenters nominated for a highly competitive poster presentation award at the 2021 International Association of Medical Science Educators Annual Conference for his research conducted on preclinical opioid and pain management curriculum at UCF Medicine. He has also developed an interest in sleep medicine and is currently working on a device and method for non-pharmacological sleep architecture optimization, which he hopes will have wide-reaching effects. He serves his community as an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and has also volunteered for many years at the St. Thomas Aquinas Medical Clinic, which provides free healthcare to local uninsured individuals. He served as a student ambassador for the Interfaith Youth Core Faith in the Vaccine Project by working with a team to plan and implement accessibility and trust-building projects in local high-need communities to promote the COVD-19 vaccine and combat vaccine hesitancy. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Jessica, and two sons, Taft and Wells.
Thomas Gossard
Thomas GossardCreighton University School of Medicine
Thomas Gossard is a fourth-year medical student who is seeking to pursue a career in neurology with particular focus on sleep medicine. His interests include the impact of sleep on normal aging, as well as the role sleep plays in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Thomas has been involved in several research projects involving REM sleep behavior disorder and obstructive sleep apnea at the Mayo Clinic. He is currently completing a research year at the National Institutes of Health as part of the Medical Scholars Research Program. His interests outside of medicine include running, playing basketball and golf, and trying new food.
Marc Perlman
Marc PerlmanAlbany Medical College
Marc Perlman is a fourth-year medical student at Albany Medical College pursuing a career in internal medicine with a focus on the application of lifestyle-based treatment to the prevention and management of chronic disease. His interests include narrative medicine, digital health and functional medicine. Marc recently completed his thesis for his medical degree with distinction in health systems analysis, exploring the implicit biases behind how those with chronic pain make decisions relating to risk and time. In addition, Marc serves as research lead for a health tech startup that provides personalized audio therapy for cancer patients. Outside of the clinic, Marc enjoys writing poetry that celebrates the often-underappreciated aspects of the medical world.
Sophia Schneider
Sophia SchneiderHarvard University Medical School
Harvard University Medical School

Sophia is a fourth-year medical student at Harvard Medical School. She attended the University of Colorado Boulder, where her interest in sleep medicine was first cultivated through her involvement in the Sleep and Development Laboratory. She studied sleep and emotion regulation across early childhood and ultimately earned a master’s in integrative physiology. In medical school, Sophia has continued to pursue sleep research by designing an original investigation of chronopharmacology and time-of-day recommendations in outpatient hospital pharmacies. She intends to apply for an internal medicine residency position, through which she aims to expand the application of circadian rhythms in clinical settings with innovative research and education projects—both in academic settings as well as at the patient bedside.

Past Recipients