Grant & Award Recipients

The AASM Foundation funds high-impact projects that are aimed at improving sleep health for all. Over the past 25 years, the AASM Foundation has invested more than $25 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 2023 grant cycle.

2023 Bridge to Success Grant Recipients

Ana Pocivavsek, PhD
Ana Pocivavsek, PhDUniversity of South Carolina
Prenatal Kynurenic Acid Elevation: Sleep and Behavior Dynamics of Mother and Offspring

Poor sleep quality during critical periods such as pregnancy and childhood may be especially detrimental to health outcomes. Maternal sleep disturbances are linked to pregnancy and postpartum complications that adversely impact offspring when the brain is undergoing critical periods of plasticity. The project goals are to develop an automated sleep disruption protocol in pregnant rats and examine how elevated tryptophan metabolism via the kynurenine pathway during the prenatal period impacts prenatal dynamics.

Nicole Gumport, PhD
Nicole Gumport, PhDStanford University
Feasibility of Integrating Digital Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia in Routine Psychotherapy

This study aims to improve access to nonpharmacological insomnia care among individuals engaged in psychotherapy for depression and/or anxiety. This study will collect feasibility and acceptability data on a novel, scalable strategy for integrating digital cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia (dCBTi) into routine psychotherapy. This approach involves training therapists to promote patient engagement with and adherence to dCBTi.

Ashley Curtis, PhD
Ashley Curtis, PhDUniversity of South Florida
Novel Adaptive Cognitive Training in Autistic Adults with Co-Occurring Insomnia

This study aims to address challenges faced by autistic adults in terms of cognition and adaptive functioning, exacerbated by the high prevalence of insomnia (~80%) among this population. Through a mixed-methods approach, we will iteratively optimize an adaptive cognitive training program for autistic adults with insomnia (COGMUSE-AUT; Stage-1). We will then pilot test (Stage-2)
COGMUSE-AUT in a sample (n=15) of autistic adults with co-occurring insomnia, assessing its impact on cognition, sleep, and daytime functioning outcomes.

2023 Focused Projects Grant for Junior Investigators Recipients

Jack Peltz, PhD
Jack Peltz, PhDSUNY Brockport
Understanding the Transactional Dynamics between Predictors and
Consequences of Sleep Disturbances with Ecologically-Valid Assessment

With such high rates of mental health and sleep problems amongst college students, addressing these inter-related problems is essential. Despite extensive research on the effects of deficient sleep, we know relatively little about students’ sleep neurophysiology, especially within challenging real-world contexts (i.e., dormitories). Advancements in the assessment of sleep neurophysiology (e.g., Dreem headbands) will allow for more ecologically-valid assessments of students’ sleep and will further our understanding of the interplay between sleep and mental health.

Christine St. Laurent, PhD
Christine St. Laurent, PhDUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst
Effects of Enhanced Physical Activity on Sleep and Cognitive Performance in Early Childhood

Although benefits are evident in adults, how physical activity (PA) influences sleep quality, architecture, and pressure in early childhood is unclear. This project will determine if increasing PA impacts sleep and cognitive measures using a within-subjects design comparing a day of typical behavior to a day with enhanced PA. Overnight sleep duration will be constant. We hypothesize that enhanced PA will increase sleep pressure and slow wave sleep, and improve sleep quality and cognitive performance.

Inna Rabinovitch-Nikitin, PhD
Inna Rabinovitch-Nikitin, PhDUniversity of Manitoba
The Effects of Shift Work on Development of Cardiometabolic Heart Failure

Disrupted circadian clock, such as seen in shift-workers, plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of cardiometabolic heart failure (HF). Cardiometabolic HF follows sex-specific differences, with higher prevalence in women. This proposal will uncover the sex-specific underlying mechanisms that govern the cardiometabolic-circadian crosstalk and examine novel nutritional stimulation approaches that will modulate expression of genes that control both circadian regulation and cardiometabolic response during cardiometabolic syndrome, toward developing innovative therapeutic approachs to treat cardiometabolic HF.

Sydney Aten, PhD
Sydney Aten, PhDBeth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Circadian Control of Sexual Behavior and Underlying (Hypothalamic) Brain Circuitry in Mice

Infertility affects many couples, and while the exact cause of infertility is not always known, dysfunction in circadian timekeeping capacity likely plays a role in the inability to conceive. This project will examine whether time-of-day changes in sexual behavior influence reproductive success in mice and whether sexual behavior can be manipulated throughout the day to optimize fertility. Results may lay groundwork for understanding how circuits that modulate sexual behavior can be harnessed to treat infertility.

Katie Cederberg, PhD
Katie Cederberg, PhDStanford University
Multi-Omic Profiling in Restless Legs Syndrome

There is a critical need for a standardized measure to accurately diagnose restless legs syndrome (RLS). The mechanisms that cause RLS are not well understood, hindering the development of targeted treatment methods. The proposed project will leverage large datasets to correlate proteomic and metabolomic data and identify key biomarkers of RLS. The result of the proposed project permits the examination of mechanisms responsible for RLS and will provide a clinically available and objective measure to better diagnose RLS.

2023 Focused Projects Grant for Junior Investigators: National Sleep Research Resource Recipients

Renske Lok, PhD
Renske Lok, PhDStanford University
Investigating Sleep-Wake Fragmentation and its Moderators in the Hispanic Community: Implications for Diabetes Management

In the United States, Hispanics have a heightened risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to non-Hispanic individuals, with inadequate sleep associated with this elevated risk. This research focuses on uncovering factors leading to sleep disruption as it relates to diabetes in the Hispanic Community Health Study. Using cutting-edge machine learning and analyses, the project aims to inform targeted interventions that improve sleep health, overall well-being, and contribute to diabetes prevention within the Hispanic community.

Kaitlin Potts, PhD
Kaitlin Potts, PhDThe Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Investigating the Relationship Between Sleep and Circadian Timing, Disruption, and 24-Hour Rhythms with Habitual Diet Quality

Sleep and diet both impact cardiometabolic disease risk and they seem to have bidirectional relationships with each other. However, few studies have explored associations between sleep and diet by incorporating multidimensional sleep domains, including circadian rhythm measures, nor with measures of diet timing. This study will investigate associations between objective sleep and rest-activity rhythms with both diet quality and timing in community-based observational cohorts. These findings could lead to improved interventions for cardiometabolic risk reduction.

2023 Focused Projects Grant for Junior Investigators: Management and Treatment of Sleep Apnea Recipient

This grant was made possible by ResMed

Sajila Wickramaratne, PhD
Sajila Wickramaratne, PhDIcahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Physiology Guided AI/ML Approach for Redefining Severity of OSA

This project proposes to combine the measures of sleep apnea burden (ventilatory, hypoxic, arousal, and autonomic) using machine learning approaches to test whether a stronger association of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with adverse health outcomes is detected. A data-driven combination of fully automated ventilatory/hypoxic/arousal/autonomic burdens can be used to guide clinical decision making to better manage and treat apnea outcomes is a key gap that our project aims to address.

2023 Physician Scientist Training Grant Recipients

Catherine Heinzinger, DO
Catherine Heinzinger, DOCleveland Clinic
Elucidating Sleep Apnea-Specific Hypoxic and Autonomic Stress in Atrial Fibrillation Development

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common, serious arrhythmia. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) increases AF risk, evidenced by epidemiologic studies, but the mechanism remains unclear. We hypothesize intermittent hypoxia and autonomic stress specific to OSA convey AF risk. Therefore, this polysomnography signal processing and data science study will compute the sleep apnea-specific hypoxic burden and heart rate response and examine associations with AF retrospectively in a large clinic-based registry to deepen understanding of these underlying relationships.

Yeilim Cho, MD
Yeilim Cho, MDUniversity of Washington
Impact of CPAP on Glymphatic Flow and Plasma AD Biomarkers in Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The study examines 1) whether treatment for obstructive sleep apnea with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy improves glymphatic clearance, 2) whether physiological responses to CPAP are associated with a change in glymphatic function, 3) whether CPAP improves Alzheimer’s Disease(AD)-related biomarkers. Given the proposed role that impairment of sleep-active glymphatic function plays in the development of AD biomarkers, this project expands our understanding of the link between sleep disruption and the development of AD pathology.

Zhikui Wei, MD, PhD
Zhikui Wei, MD, PhDJohns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Links of Objective and Self-Reported Sleep with Adipokines in Older Adults

Sleep disturbance and metabolic dysfunction are common in older adults, yet the underlying mechanism linking these two conditions is unclear. This study will utilize data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) to examine the associations of self-report and objective sleep indices with changes in adipokine levels in older adults. We hypothesize that indices of sleep disturbance are associated with lower leptin and adiponectin levels, contributing to systemic metabolic dysfunction in older adults.

2023 American Board of Sleep Medicine Junior Faculty Grant Recipients

Denise Dewald, MD
Denise Dewald, MDMetroHealth Medical Center
Swallowing in OSA & PAP Intolerance (SLP-PAP)

While continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the standard treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), more than half of patients struggle with it. The Swallowing in OSA & PAP intolerance (SLP-PAP) study will look for swallowing differences between people with CPAP intolerance and those who do well with the therapy. The goal is to develop novel rehabilitative strategies that will allow people who are intolerant of CPAP to be able to use it successfully.

2023 Community Sleep Health and Public Awareness Grant Recipients

Judith Owens, MD, MPH
Judith Owens, MD, MPHBoston Children’s Hospital and Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers
A Bedtime Story Book

Bedtime books that are specifically aimed towards the most vulnerable children do not exist. We will develop a bedtime book utilizing culturally-relevant sleep health messages and illustrations targeting disadvantaged/minority families with school-aged children in order to help address sleep health disparities. The book’s development will incorporate feedback from stakeholders including caregivers. The book will be distributed by healthcare providers in community health settings during well child visits to reinforce the relationship between sleep health and general health.

Monica Mallampalli, PhD
Monica Mallampalli, PhDAlliance of Sleep Apnea Partners
Identify Gaps and Concerns Within the Sleep Apnea Community and Provide Actionable Grassroots Support to Bridge Gaps in Care

The Philips Respironics recall has largely lacked the patient voice and discussions on concrete actions needed to prevent such a recall in the future. This project by Alliance of Sleep Apnea Partners (ASAP) plans to identify and mitigate gaps within the sleep apnea patient community resulting directly from the recall of CPAP devices. ASAP will create a web-based platform with relevant policy information and tools needed for patients to better educate and advocate for themselves.

Glenna Brewster, PhD
Glenna Brewster, PhDEmory University
Providing Sleep Education to Predominantly Black/African American Congregations

Our goal is to determine whether a tailored sleep education program delivered to congregants of predominantly African American churches improved their sleep and increased their knowledge regarding when and how to follow-up with healthcare providers. Results from this project will be used as preliminary data for grant applications to further disseminate this program. This funding also supports one of my career goals to reduce sleep health disparities within African American communities.

Sally Ferguson, PhD & Grace Vincent, PhD
Sally Ferguson, PhD & Grace Vincent, PhDCentral Queensland University
Healthy from the Start: Co-Designing Sleep Health Resources for Young Shiftworkers

This project aims to learn effective strategies for improving sleep health among young shiftworkers by developing tailored, evidence-based resources. AASM Foundation funding will allow us to engage with various stakeholders and create relevant, accessible resources. The findings from this project will significantly contribute to our ongoing research in sleep and circadian health, ultimately enhancing our career trajectory by enabling us to make a tangible impact on shiftworker populations.

Hrayr Attarian, MD
Hrayr Attarian, MDNorthwestern University
Addressing Chronic Insomnia in Underserved Populations: The Role of Tele-CBT-i

The primary goal of this project is to assess the feasibility of delivering free tele-CBT-i at Community Health to address the prevalent insomnia and sleep health among low-income, uninsured, and underinsured adults in Chicago. We are partnering with Dr. Lullaby, a digital platform featuring a team of behavioral sleep trained, licensed clinicians who provide CBT-i and other evidence-based Behavioral Sleep Medicine protocols in 36 states.

2023 Strategic Research Grant Recipients

M. Safwan Badr, MD, MBA
M. Safwan Badr, MD, MBAWayne State University
Impact of Scoring Criteria on the Diagnosis of SDB in Women: Is there a Gender Disparity

This project aims to determine whether using the AASM-recommended rule for hypopnea scoring, rather than the acceptable criteria, will enhance detection of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) in women, and hence will reduce gender disparities in diagnoses. This is a critically significant issue that must be addressed with urgency given the known delay in the diagnosis of this condition in women. The AASM Foundation funding is critical for this understudied question. We anticipate that our findings will inform future definitive studies and provide a foundation for discussions with providers, healthcare systems, and payers to ensure that SDB is optimally diagnosed and treated in women.

Elizabeth Cayanan, PhD
Elizabeth Cayanan, PhDThe University of Sydney
A Novel Dietary Approach to Manage Symptoms of Narcolepsy and Idiopathic Hypersomnia

We will learn whether a practical dietary intervention can be used to supplement current management strategies to enhance patient outcomes. Importantly, our qualitative analyses will give voice to patients with conditions of hypersomnolence to better understand their lived experience. As an early career researcher, the funding from the AASM Foundation will provide a platform to establish an independent line of research while allowing me to emerge as a leader in a richer diversity of behavioral interventions for sleep disorders.

Yves Dauvilliers, ZMD, PhD
Yves Dauvilliers, ZMD, PhDUniversity of Montpellier
A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial Comparing the Efficacy and Tolerance of Solriamfetol in Patients Affected with Idiopathic Hypersomnia

[co-funded by Hypersomnia Foundation]

Through this project, we aim to harness the potential of high-dose solriamfetol, a medication already approved for narcolepsy, to address unmet medical needs in Idiopathic Hypersomnia (IH). Evaluating its efficacy using various markers, we seek to advance IH treatment insights and patient well-being. The support of AASM Foundation and Hypersomnia Foundation enables our team to amplify our research impact as well as fostering our growth by encouraging innovation in the field of sleep research.

Nadia Gosselin, PhD
Nadia Gosselin, PhDCentre de recherche du Centre Integre de Sante et de services sociaux du Nord De I’lle-de-Montreal
The Snooz Toolbox: Transforming Sleep Medicine through In-Depth Polysomnographic Analyses

By closely working with sleep technologists and physicians to develop this new sleep analysis platform, our research team will learn to develop tools that specifically address clinical needs. Working as a multidisciplinary team will also facilitate the integration of computational and AI tools into sleep medicine practice. The support from the AASM allows for the objective to provide open-access and well-validated tools to accelerate sleep medicine discoveries.

Laura Lewis, PhD & Ewa Beldzik, PhD
Laura Lewis, PhD & Ewa Beldzik, PhDMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Imaging the Brainstem and Hypothalamic Activity Underlying Sleepiness-Induced Attentional Deficits in Humans

[co-funded by Wake up Narcolepsy]

Broad scientific consensus has called for new biomarkers for hypersomnolence disorders, which are essential to improve their diagnosis and treatment. We aim to image activity in the brain circuits responsible for sleep-wake regulation and understand how it is linked to cognitive symptoms. This project uses a noninvasive imaging tool, enabling translation to human patients. The AASM Foundation and Wake Up Narcolepsy funding is enabling us to translate our novel MRI-based tools to understand the neural basis of hypersomnolence disorders.

Beth Malow, MD & Susan Brasher, PhD
Beth Malow, MD & Susan Brasher, PhDVanderbilt University Medical Center
Bringing Sleep Education for Children with Autism into Communities-a Dissemination and Implementation Project

We hope to learn from this project how to disseminate, implement, and evaluate a therapist training program in children with autism whose families have limited access to healthcare. Our work will also be generalizable to children with a variety of other intellectual and developmental disabilities and more broadly to children of typical development. The AASM Foundation funding will support our career trajectory in advancing our experience in dissemination and implementation related to behavioral sleep education.

Jonna Morris, PhD, RN
Jonna Morris, PhD, RNUniversity of Pittsburgh
A Formalized Patient-to-Patient Peer Support Program to Promote CPAP Adherence in Women

This project seeks to learn if a formalized patient-to-patient peer support intervention personalized for women with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) will significantly help them to successfully begin and adhere to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment. The AASM Foundation grant represents the next step in my research to understand and improve the treatment of women with OSA. This study will inform an NIH R01 trial to compare peer support to other modalities that promote CPAP adherence.

Jennifer Mundt, PhD
Jennifer Mundt, PhDNorthwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Imagery Rehearsal Therapy for the Treatment of Nightmares in Narcolepsy: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

This trial will help us understand whether Imagery Rehearsal Therapy (IRT) can improve nightmares, mood, and daytime functioning for individuals with narcolepsy. Funding from the AASM Foundation for this project comes at a critical point in my career as I am pivoting from a clinical role toward a greater focus on research. This funding will allow me to continue conducting sleep research and will improve the likelihood of success with future larger grant applications.

Sanjay Patel, MD, MS
Sanjay Patel, MD, MSUniversity of Pittsburgh
Developing Evidence-Based Thresholds for Long-Term Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) Coverage

I hope to better understand what symptoms improve in a diverse OSA population treated with CPAP and what dose is necessary to see improvements. Using this data, I will be able to test whether more liberal CPAP coverage policies will reduce disparities in OSA care. This funding support from the AASM Foundation will provide me the opportunity to shift my scientific focus and gain experience in research focused on reducing disparities in OSA care.

Paul Patterson, PhD
Paul Patterson, PhDUniversity of Pittsburgh
The Code 3 First Responder Sleep Health Program

New information gained from this project includes: 1) identifying employer- and employee-reported barriers and facilitators to adopting evidence-based guidance, and 2) determining the impact of a novel employer-focused sleep health program on employee-reported fatigue and sleep quality. Support from the AASM Foundation will significantly expand our knowledge of fatigue and sleep health among public safety operations, enhance our capability to implement evidence-based guidance, and accelerate improvements in sleep health for safety sensitive operations.

Naresh Punjabi, MD
Naresh Punjabi, MDUniversity of Miami
The Value of Different Scoring Criteria for Sleep-Disordered Breathing: An Outcomes-Based Approach

For decades, it has been debated as to what is the most appropriate definition of hypopneas for diagnosing SBD. The overall goal of this project is to provide an evidence-based approach for defining hypopneas to guide case identification of those with sleep-disordered breathing. The AASM Foundation grant will facilitate my ability to excite regional and national investigators to collaborate in the building of the evidence that can better guide our field.

Ghada Bourjeily, MD
Ghada Bourjeily, MDThe Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Role of Maternal Nutrition and Stress on Sleep Health Disparities in Pregnancy

The study will further our understanding of how stress and nutrition may impact sleep in pregnancy and how this relationship is different for women from different races who may have different societal or environmental exposures. The AASM funding will help us identify new targets for multi-pronged interventions to improve sleep in pregnancy, reduce maternal perinatal complications and improve the health of the mother and her family.

AASM Foundation and CHEST Foundation Research Grant in Sleep Medicine

Tetyana Kendzerska, MD, PhD
Tetyana Kendzerska, MD, PhDThe Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, University of Ottawa
Utility of Inpatient Assessment for Sleep-Disordered Breathing: A Retrospective Study of Health Administrative Data

Dr. Kendzerska’s research is aimed at conducting a retrospective population-based study using provincial health administrative data to quantify the utility of inpatient sleep studies in Ontario. The provincial health plan reimburses both technical and clinical interpretation fees for outpatient PSG; however, it does not reimburse the in-laboratory polysomnography (PSG) technical fee to the hospital for admitted patients. Individuals with undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and multimorbidity are at high risk of hospital admission. Despite the clinical importance of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), most patients (~90%) with SDB remain undiagnosed. Among admitted patients, this diagnostic gap is even more pronounced due to the presence of symptoms and clinical findings overlapping with exacerbations of other medical conditions. These contributions are significant because, as the inpatient population is likely sicker in five years, it is anticipated this study will identify the potential for cost savings and find a subgroup of individuals who may benefit the most from an inpatient PSG.

2023 Sleep Champion Award Recipient

Save Standard Time
Save Standard TimeFountain Hills, AZ
Save Standard Time was founded by Mr. Jay Pea, and the organization advocates for permanently restoring Standard Time and ending Daylight Saving Time (DST). Permanent Standard Time allows us to sleep later for health, mood, safety, and education. Last year the AASM Foundation approved a grant request from Save Standard Time to produce a series of popular videos on social media that explain the effects of DST.

Mr. Pea was honored to receive the award stating, “Thank you for this great honor! All of us at Save Standard Time, from our board members to our volunteers and supporters, are thrilled to learn our organization was awarded the AASM Foundation’s Sleep Champion Award.”

2023-2024 SOAR Fellows

Christian Agudelo, MD
Christian Agudelo, MDUniversity of Miami School of Medicine
Dr. Christian Agudelo is a sleep neurologist and clinical instructor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. He received a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Duke University. At the University of Pittsburgh, he obtained a medical degree and completed NIMH R25 and T32 fellowships, studying psychophysiology in Parkinson’s Disease and neuroimaging in late-life cognitive disorders, respectively. He completed residency and fellowship training in neurology and sleep medicine at the University of Miami. His research leverages longitudinal observational studies to (1) identify features of sleep physiology associated with cognitive decline and (2) identify sleep-related neuroimaging markers of preclinical cognitive decline. He is currently funded by a NIA Diversity Supplement to his mentor’s (Dr. Alberto Ramos’) R01. As a SOAR fellow, he will submit a NIA K23 application. Ultimately, he seeks to translate observational findings into clinical trials that optimize sleep to mitigate preclinical cognitive decline and pathology.
Syed Moin Hassan, MD
Syed Moin Hassan, MDBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Dr. Hassan joined Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders in July 2023, after the end of his pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine fellowships. He is currently conducting advanced analytics – integrating data from clinical medicine, physiology, and genetics in large epidemiological and clinical databases- to reveal how OSA-related risk is influenced by its effects on pulmonary hypertension and cardiovascular disease. This project is being conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Brian Cade and Dr. Susan Redline with additional valuable input and mentorship on pulmonary vascular disease by Dr. Farbod Rahaghi and Dr. George Washko. He plans to apply for a career development K award in the upcoming 1-2 years. His long-term career goal is to continue to develop his research interests in “big data, genomics and artificial intelligence, and use these to further help in phenotyping and genotyping sleep disorders.
Nancy H. Stewart, DO, MS
Nancy H. Stewart, DO, MSUniversity of Kansas Medical Center
Dr. Nancy Stewart is a graduate of Kansas City University. She did her clinical training in Internal Medicine in Chicago at Advocate Lutheran General. She then completed the MERITS Medical Education Fellowship, Hospital Scholars Fellowship, and a master’s in public health studies at The University of Chicago. Following this she completed clinical training in Pulmonary/Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at Creighton University and University of Nebraska. She started her career as a junior investigator and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Kansas City Medical Center. Her research centers around improving sleep health in patients with lung disease and sleep health in healthcare workers. She has received through the CHEST Foundation and plans to submit an NIH K23 application during SOAR focused on improving sleep health in patients with lung disease.
Eunjin Tracy, PhD
Eunjin Tracy, PhDUniversity of Pittsburgh
Dr. Eunjin Tracy is currently a postdoctoral scholar who receives training in sleep and circadian rhythms at the University of Pittsburgh (primary mentor: Dr. Daniel Buysse. Secondary mentors: Drs. Brant Hasler & Martica Hall). Her research interest is the ways in which health-related stress, sleep and circadian rhythms, in the context of couple and family relationships, shape trajectories of healthy aging and disease. Dr. Tracy completed her PhD in human development and family studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her first postdoctoral training in developmental/health psychology at the University of Utah. She will begin her position as Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia in the fall of 2023. Her long-term career goal is to apply a family systems perspective to public health research by focusing the role of sleep and circadian rhythms. She is planning to submit NIH NHLBI K01 grant proposal at the end of the SOAR program.

2023 Sleep Research Society Foundation Small Research Grant Recipients

Syed Imran Ahmed, MBBS, MPH
Syed Imran Ahmed, MBBS, MPH Virginia Commonwealth University
Dr. Ahmed’s project is planning a 2-week single-arm open-label feasibility study with a sleep extension intervention combined with sleep hygiene training to improve sleep efficiency (SE) in 24 patients with symptomatic heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). The specific aim is to demonstrate the feasibility of a gradual sleep extension strategy combined with sleep hygiene training aimed at increasing SE in patients with HFpEF on guideline-directed medical therapy. In addition, he will also want to identify the effects of a sleep extension strategy combined with sleep hygiene training on quality of life (QoL), functional capacity, and biomarkers. He will determine the effect size of their intervention on QoL measured with the heart failure-validated Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire (KCCQ). Besides we will investigate potential changes in functional capacity and biomarkers with prognostic implications in HFpEF between baseline and 2 weeks. The expected goal is to demonstrate that SE can be modified in patients with HFpEF. Moreover, he expects that improvements in SE are associated with favorable changes in QoL, functional capacity, and inflammation. The study will also help to obtain preliminary feasibility data to conduct future larger randomized controlled trials utilizing sleep modulation as a therapeutic approach for patients with HFpEF.
Caroline Y. Doyle, PhD
Caroline Y. Doyle, PhD University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Doyle’s study will help to develop an integrated treatment for insomnia and PTSD tailored to midlife women by qualitatively assessing intervention interest, challenges, barriers, and intervention targets specific to this population. Focus groups and interviews will be conducted with women (N=~30) with PTSD and insomnia symptoms. Based on her findings, concepts and modules will be selected and organized into a treatment protocol that can be used for training and delivery. The measurable outcome of this project will be the finalized treatment manual incorporating data gathered during the focus groups and interviews and will include tailored insomnia and PTSD treatment concepts and items such as session length and frequency.
Christina Giles, MD
Christina Giles, MDUniversity of Colorado Anschutz Medical
The goal of Dr. Giles’ project is to describe and evaluate the impact of sleep health on bariatric surgery outcomes in adolescents. She intends to make a database from variables collected in provider notes and questionnaires collected in their Bariatric Surgery Clinic. Variables to be looked at include sleep duration, sleep disruption, presence or absence of consistent sleep and wake times, presence of insomnia, PAP adherence, specifically in relation to BMI/weight outcomes following bariatric surgery. This study will help establish how to best manage and counsel adolescent patients undergoing MBS on their sleep habits and health, with the goal of maintaining weight loss following surgery in mind.
Cassi Springfield, MS, MA
Cassi Springfield, MS, MAUniversity of Southern Mississippi
Per Ms. Springfield, previous research indicates that people with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders (SSDs) have difficulty accurately evaluating their abilities and skills (i.e., impaired introspective accuracy [IA]) and tend to be overly confident about their task performance, which is linked to poor functional outcomes. Yet, determinants of IA and confidence are underexplored in SSDs. This study will advance her understanding of the interrelations between sleep, symptoms, IA, confidence, and functional outcomes by examining how day-to-day fluctuations in objective sleep quality may impact IA and confidence in real-time. Examining day-to-day changes in these variables will help to elucidate mechanisms underlying IA impairment, which will inform intervention efforts to improve sleep disturbance and everyday functioning for people with SSDs.
Valerie Swisher
Valerie SwisherPennsylvania State University
Valerie Swisher states that the contrast avoidance model posits that the perceived intensity of a shift from one emotion to another (i.e., an emotional contrast) is determined by the emotions that precede it, and that some individuals attempt to avoid sharp increases in negative emotions by maintaining heightened states of negative arousal throughout the day. This maintenance of negative affective states to avoid experiencing an emotional contrast, termed contrast avoidance (CA), has been widely supported in empirical work, with particular utility in explaining how perseverative cognitions (PCs; i.e., worry and rumination) are reinforced and maintained. In the present study, 50 undergraduates will wear actigraphy and complete daily ecological momentary assessment prompts measuring PCs and CA for one week. She predicts that sleep disturbance will be associated with greater PCs and CA throughout the day and uniquely predict PCs and CA (beyond their associations with one another), suggesting that sleep should be prioritized in conceptual models for PCs and CA. As CA and PCs have negative physical and mental health implications, identifying sleep as a relevant predictor of CA may inform interventions and positively impact populations with affective and sleep disturbances.
Jamie Walker, M.A., LPC
Jamie Walker, M.A., LPCUniversity of Arkansas
Insomnia is associated with several chronic illnesses (e.g.,Type 2 Diabetes; T2D) and is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome, which often precedes the onset of T2D. Therefore, Ms. Walker’s proposed study will gather ten days of prospective data (e.g., actigraphy, sleep diaries, continuous glucose monitoring) to address the following goals: (1) assess the relationship between daily variations in sleep and glucose metabolism and (2) identify specific sleep-related mechanisms (e.g., sleep consolidation vs. total sleep time) responsible for daily fluctuations in glucose metabolism. Results from the proposed study will provide the first evidence that variability in sleep directly impacts metabolic functioning. These findings have the potential to guide prevention/intervention efforts by suggesting that insomnia treatment may have beneficial effects on other health domains. This study will, therefore, set a foundation for conducting research testing the utility of insomnia treatment for the treatment of impaired glucose metabolism and prevention of T2D.

2023 AMA Foundation Physicians of Tomorrow Scholarship Recipients

Andrew Tubbs
Andrew TubbsUniversity of Arizona College of Medicine
Andrew Tubbs is an MD/PhD student at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson. He studies how disrupted sleep and circadian rhythms increase risk for suicide and what interventions can reduce risk. Tubbs plans to complete residency training in psychiatry with subsequent fellowships in child/adolescent psychiatry and sleep medicine. He aspires to leverage sleep and circadian interventions to help patients get on the path to recovery.
Dorothy Chan
Dorothy ChanUniversity of Cincinnati College of Medicine
Dorothy Chan is a medical student at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. She has broad interests including neuroscience and sleep medicine. Chan plans to pursue these areas through a career in emergency medicine, and she hopes to increase access to wellness and preventative health opportunities through education.
Elaine Cheung
Elaine CheungCalifornia Northstate University College of Medicine
Elaine Cheung is a medical student at California Northstate University College of Medicine. Her interest in medicine with a public health focus started during her undergraduate career, where she majored in neuroscience and was able to conduct research on sleep-wake cycles among gambling disorder patients in residential treatment programs. In medical school, she has continued her research interests to inform clinical medicine and improve community health. Cheung plans to apply for an internal medicine residency position and aims to expand knowledge on sleep hygiene for diverse patient populations.
Jihoon Lim
Jihoon LimUniversity of Central Florida College of Medicine
Jihoon Lim is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2018. Prior to medical school, Lim worked as a research assistant at the Initiative for RNA Medicine at Harvard Medical School, where he gained a passion for translational research and novel cancer diagnostic methods. His interests led him to appreciate radiology and its vast implications in patient care. He is excited to apply for a residency spot in a diagnostic radiology program.

Past Recipients