Sleep and Circadian Disorders Faculty Research Interests

Daniel Aeschbach, Ph.D., is interested in the physiological processes that regulate the timing, duration, and intensity of sleep, as well as the quality of wakefulness. His work focuses on homeostatic and circadian regulatory processes, as studied by quantitative analysis of electroencephalographic and neuroendocrine dynamics during sleep and wakefulness.

Clare Anderson, Ph.D., is an experimental psychologist who studies basic and applied sleep research under the general remit of effects of acute and chronic sleep loss on behavior and performance. She conducts studies in both field- and laboratory-based settings, and is experienced in a wide range of techniques used in sleep research. She is particularly interested in the effects of sleep loss on more subtle aspects of human behavior such as distraction, social cognition, and executive functions. As part of the Harvard Work Hours, Health and Safety group, she is currently assessing the incidence of drowsy driving in medical residents following an extended shift on the drive home from work.

Laura K. Barger, Ph.D., has a research interest in the health and safety consequences of extended work schedules in various occupational groups. She has a particular interest in spaceflight and studies the sleep of astronauts during short and long duration missions.

Salma Batool-Anwar, M.D., M.P.H. has research interests that are focused on epidemiology of sleep disorders particularly restless legs syndrome and sleep disordered breathing. She has been involved with secondary data analysis of large ongoing prospective cohorts including Nurses' Health Study and Health Professional Follow-up study examining the association between sleep disorders and health outcomes. Her ultimate goal is to improve the quality of care and reduce the cardiovascular disease burden among patients with sleep disorders.

Kathryn Britton, MD is a cardiovascular epidemiologist whose research has examined obesity, ectopic fat depots, and vascular disease primarily in large epidemiologic cohorts.

Rohit Budhiraja, M.D., is interested in the epidemiology of sleep disordered breathing as well as the factors associated with adherence to CPAP therapy. He is also interested in studying the bidirectional relationship between sleep disturbances and medical disorders. Another area of focus is the use of technology to enhance clinical sleep medicine training, research and public education.

James P. Butler, Ph.D., has research interests in all aspects of breathing including comparative physiology spanning birds to whales, and of course humans, both awake and asleep. At the whole organ level, he is particularly interested in lung mechanics, gas exchange, the control of breathing, and aerosol transport; at the cellular level he works in the rheological properties of single cells and, more recently, properties of migrating monolayers and their interaction with their mechanical microenvironment.

Orfeu M. Buxton, Ph.D., studies the causes and health consequences of sleep deficiency, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Work-related, multi-levels causes of sleep deficiency are a central focus of this work. Ongoing interdisciplinary human studies involve the effects of sleep deficiency, aging, and insomnia on metabolic and cardiovascular function, as well as the contribution of sleep disparities to cardiometabolic health disparities.

Sean W. Cain, Ph.D., is primarily interested in sex differences in circadian rhythms and sleep. He has recently demonstrated that women and men sleep at different biological times, which may influence both sleep quality and quantity. He is currently studying the biological time of sleep in women with insomnia and examining the effect of sex differences in seasonal biological timing on sleep quality.

Anne-Marie Chang, Ph.D., is primarily interested in the physiologic evaluation and genetic analysis of sleep, circadian rhythms, and cardio-metabolic function in humans, particularly in phenotypes of extreme sleep and circadian behaviors with a goal of informing and developing better research criteria for identifying and accurately characterizing these behavioral phenotypes. Her work includes examination of the influence of candidate gene variants on sleep behavior, obesity and cardio-metabolic outcome measures across the lifespan.

Charles A. Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., F.R.C.P., is interested in the physiology of the hypothalamic circadian pacemaker in humans, photic and non-photic synchronizers of the human circadian pacemaker, temporal dynamics in neuroendocrine systems, homeostatic and circadian factors in the regulation of sleep and alertness, and the application of circadian physiology to occupational medicine/health policy, particularly as it relates to the extended work schedules required for hospital interns.

Jeanne F. Duffy, M.B.A., Ph.D., is interested in both basic and applied aspects of circadian rhythm and sleep physiology in humans.  Her work has focused on understanding how the circadian timing system contributes to individual differences in sleep timing, duration, and response to acute and chronic sleep loss.

Bradley A. Edwards, Ph.D., is broadly focused on better understanding the pathogenesis of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and its treatment. Currently, we believe that OSA pathogenesis is due to the interaction of several physiological traits. In particular, his research focuses on whether novel drugs or interventions that can alter these traits have a beneficial effect on severity of individuals’ sleep-disordered breathing. This research is both extremely exciting and necessary if we are to better understand the pathogenesis of OSA as well as find better treatments (and even cure’s) for individuals with this sleep disorder.

Lawrence J. Epstein, M.D. is interested clinical management of sleep disorders patients, circadian rhythm disorder treatment and sleep medicine graduate education.

Joshua J. Gooley, Ph.D., is investigating non-image-forming photoreception and the interaction of sleep and circadian rhythms in determining human physiology and performance.

Daniel J. Gottlieb, M.D., M.P.H., is interested in the epidemiology and cardiovascular consequences of obstructive sleep apnea and other common sleep disorders.

Sandra Horowitz, M.D.C.M. has studied how support groups improve CPAP compliance.  Current research interests are in improving CPAP compliance and in exploring the treatment of delayed sleep phase syndrome in adolescents, and in sleep in stroke.

Kun Hu, Ph.D., is interested in dynamic patterns in the fluctuations of neurophysiological outputs such as blood pressure, heart rate, motor activity, and neural activity. By utilizing concepts and methods derived from nonlinear dynamics and complex system theory, Dr. Hu has been investigating control mechanisms underlying these neurophysiological fluctuations and their alterations with aging and pathological conditions. He has established Medical Biodynamics Program within the Division of Sleep Medicine to promote such translational research in sleep medicine and to facilitate the interdisciplinary collaborations of clinicians, biomedical researchers, physicists, applied mathematicians and engineers.

Plamen Ch. Ivanov, Ph.D., D.Sc., works in the field of statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics with a focus on applications to physiologic systems and neural control. His studies and research interests include methods of analysis and modeling of integrated physiologic systems and networks; multi-scale fractal and multifractal properties of cardiac dynamics, locomotion, and respiration, as well as the nonlinear mechanisms of feedback and coupling between these systems; effects of sleep, sleep-stage transitions, and circadian and ultradian clocks on physiologic dynamics; aspects of synchronization between functional responses of physiologic systems under neural regulation; pathways and networks of dynamical interaction; and mechanisms of excitation and wave propagation in cellular networks.

Sat Bir Khalsa, Ph.D., has a primary research interest in the physiology and psychology of yoga and meditation practices in both normal subjects and patient populations. He has conducted NIH/NCCAM-funded research on the evaluation of the effectiveness of a yoga and meditation intervention for chronic insomnia and an analysis of the underlying neuroendocrine mechanisms involved. He is currently conducting studies on the improvements in mental health in adolescent high school students and in music students to yoga interventions. He is currently funded by the Department of Defense for a trial of yoga in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. He is currently teaching an annual 1-credit, 2-month elective fall course entitled "Mind Body Medicine" at Harvard Medical School.

Elizabeth B. Klerman, M.D., Ph.D., concentrates her efforts in clinical and biomathematical research, teaching and clinical practice. Within the Division of Sleep Medicine, her areas of research are the application of circadian and sleep research principles to pathophysiologic states and mathematical modeling of human circadian, sleep, and neurobehavioral mood and performance rhythms.

Christopher P. Landrigan, M.D., M.P.H., studies the effects of house officers’ traditional 24-30 hour shifts on safety and performance, and is interested in development of scheduling solutions to reduce the adverse consequences of resident sleep deprivation. Interns working traditional 24-30 hour work shifts make 36% more serious medical errors and five times as many serious diagnostic errors as interns whose scheduled work is limited to 16 consecutive hours, but limited work to date has sought to identify sustainable solutions. Dr. Landrigan is pilot testing scheduling solutions at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and evaluating the effectiveness of sign-out tools and processes designed to mitigate problems with continuity of care. He is interested in the translation of solutions into broader health policy.

Steven W. Lockley, Ph.D. and his research team, studies basic and applied aspects of human circadian biology and sleep medicine. Their translational approach includes use of a range of techniques including epidemiology, field-based physiological studies, and inpatient intensive physiological monitoring. They have a particular interest in human circadian photoreception and the effects of light on the circadian pacemaker and other non-image forming responses and, with the Harvard Work Hours Health and Safety Group, they assess the impact of extended work hours on health and safety of workers and the implementation of large-scale occupational fatigue management and sleep disorders screening programs.

Sanjay Patel, M.D., M.S. is interested in the epidemiology of sleep and sleep disorders and the bi-directional relationship between sleep and metabolic dysfunction including obesity and diabetes.  He is also interested in disparities in sleep and sleep disorders including understanding both the genetic and environmental sources as well as the health consequences of disparities in sleep.

Milena Pavlova, M.D. has the following research interests: 1) Effects of sleep and circadian rhythms on epilepsy: 2) Effect of sleep and sleep loss on endocrine function; 3) Parasomnia and EEG abnormalities.

Stuart F. Quan, M.D., is interested in the epidemiology of sleep and sleep disordered breathing with a focus on the consequences of sleep disordered breathing in children as well as its impact on cardiovascular disease. Another major focus is enhancing public education and awareness of the impact of sleep deficiency and sleep disorders on health and productivity.

Shantha W. Rajaratnam, Ph.D., is interested in the circadian regulation of sleep-wakefulness, effects of melatonin and light on sleep and circadian rhythms, fatigue management programs, and legal and policy issues related to sleep.

Susan Redline, M.D., M.P.H.'s research includes epidemiological studies and clinical trials designed  to 1) elucidate the etiologies of sleep disorders, including the role of genetic and early life developmental factors, and 2) understand the cardiovascular and other health outcomes of sleep disorders and the role of sleep interventions in improving health.  She leads the Sleep Reading Center for a number of major NIH multicenter studies, including the Sleep Heart Health Study and has been developing informatics tools to promote community wide access to data generated from these studies. She has led several large cohort studies including the Cleveland Children’s Sleep and Health Study and is currently leads a major initiative to identify genes for sleep apnea (“Life After Linkage”).

Joseph M. Ronda, M.S., is primarily interested in the use of computer technology in medicine and clinical research. He has developed automated data collection systems used in the BWH Center for Clinical Investigation (CCI), has developed an integrated data management software system used in the division, has developed software systems for collecting data on NASA spaceflight missions, and works closely with other division investigators to develop and integrate new automated data collection devices and systems into their research.

Frank A.J.L. Scheer, Ph.D., is primarily interested in medical chronobiology, including the underlying physiological mechanisms and therapeutic strategies. His work focuses on circadian and behavioral influences on cardiovascular, pulmonary, and metabolic regulation and disease. Furthermore, he is interested in fundamental properties of the human circadian timing system, including effects of light and melatonin.

Rui Wang, Ph.D., is interested in the development and application of statistical methods to elucidate the complex inter-relationship between cardiovascular diseases and sleep disorders, and to identify novel targets for cardiovascular disease reduction that related to common, treatable sleep disorders, using data from clinical trials and epidemiological studies.

Wei Wang, Ph.D., is interested in developing statistical models in sleep research. Her current work focuses on studying human circadian, sleep rhythms, and their effects on performance and alertness at both group level and individual level.

D. Andrew Wellman, M.D. is interested in developing new therapies for sleep apnea through a better understanding of the pathophysiology.  His early papers studied the role of ventilatory control sensitivity in sleep apnea, primarily in different subpopulations known to be at risk for this disease (elderly, male gender, individuals with a collapsible pharyngeal airway).  These experiments were critical in establishing the pathophysiological importance of ventilatory control sensitivity in sleep apnea.  More recently, he has been applying engineering principles to develop new methods for measuring and modeling the physiological traits causing sleep apnea.  Such methods could lead to newer treatment approaches that target the abnormal underlying trait(s).  Future goals are to identify simpler methods for phenotyping and to determine the effectiveness of non- continuous positive airway pressure therapies at manipulating, or fixing, the different traits.

David P. White, M.D., primarily studies the pathophysiology of obstructive sleep apnea and other disorders of breathing during sleep, using three principal areas of investigation to approach these disorders: airway anatomy, upper airway muscle control, and the general control of breathing. He is also now phenotyping individual patient believing this may lead to novel therapies.

Watch a video with Dr. Scheer describing the impact of the circadian system on health


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