Sleep and Circadian Disorders Faculty Research Interests

Ali Azarbarzin, PhD is interested in sleep apnea physiology, epidemiology, and health consequences. The focus of his work is to better understand physiological consequences of sleep apnea (including hypoxia, sleep fragmentation, and sympathetic activation) and how they relate to health outcomes. He is also interested in identifying individual patients who benefit most from intervention.

Laura K. Barger, PhD 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 studied the sleep of astronauts during short and long duration missions.

Salma Batool-Anwar, MD, MPH 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.

Suzanne M. Bertisch, MD, MPH has research interests that are focused on 1) adapting sleep health interventions to a variety of community and clinical populations 2) impact of sleep disorders consequent influence on pain and cardiometabolic health

Rohit Budhiraja, MB, BS 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, PhD 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.

Brian E. Cade, PhD specializes in human sleep and related comorbidities research using genetic epidemiology, genome-wide association studies, whole-genome sequencing, and bioinformatics. He also studies the relationships between disordered sleep and other diseases using clinical electronic heath record data.

Charles A. Czeisler, PhD, MD, FRCP 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, MBA, PhD is interested understanding how the circadian timing system contributes to individual differences in sleep timing, duration, need, and response sleep loss in humans. Her work has focused on both basic and applied aspects of circadian and sleep physiology in young and older adults, and on developing and testing interventions for circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders.

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

Daniel J. Gottlieb, MD, MPH is interested in the epidemiology and cardiovascular consequences of obstructive sleep apnea and other common sleep disorders.

Kun Hu, PhD 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.

Sogol Javaheri, MD, MPH has research interests that are focused on 1) the impact of sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea on cardiovascular health and 2) improving quality of care for patients with comorbid sleep and cardiovascular diseases. She is currently involved in a clinical trial studying sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation.

Sat Bir Khalsa, PhD has a primary research interest in the physiology, psychology and efficacy of yoga and meditation practices in both normal subjects and patient populations. He has conducted research on the efficacy yoga for chronic insomnia, chronic stress, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorders. He has also conducted yoga research studies on the improvements in mental health in public school students and workplace/occupational settings. He is editor in chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, coordinator of the annual Symposium on Yoga Research, and chief editor of the medical textbook The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care.

Elizabeth B. Klerman, MD, PhD 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 clinical practice, and mathematical modeling of human circadian, sleep, and neurobehavioral mood and performance rhythms.

Christopher P. Landrigan, MD, MPH. studies the effects of sleep deprivation and circadian misalignment on the safety of resident-physicians and their patients. He is also interested in studying handoff tools and processes designed to mitigate problems with continuity of care. He led the development of the I-PASS program to address this concern. A key next step will be to develop comprehensive solutions that concurrently address handoffs and physician workload as scheduling solutions are implemented, as one or both are often inadequately addressed as work hours are reduced. He is interested in the translation of solutions into broader health policy, and the widespread adoption of sustainable solutions.

Jacqueline M. Lane, PhD is interested in the genetics and health impacts of sleep and circadian biology. Dr. Lane's research program uses interdisciplinary approaches to answer questions about basic biology and associated disease risk, particularly psychiatric disorders. Her translational research focuses on understanding the human circadian system through the lens of extreme circadian rhythm disorders and novel functional follow-up approaches to address questions of basic biology of the circadian clock and expose the influence of circadian characteristics over human health and life history. Dr. Lane is dedicated to improving our understanding of the genetic influences of circadian rhythms, especially atypical circadian rhythms and circadian rhythm disorders while conducting her research and mentoring with diversity, equity, and inclusion as strong priorities.

Peng Li, PhD is interested in understanding sleep/circadian disturbances as potential risk factors of neurodegeneration or cognitive complications. As a trained biomedical engineer during his PhD, Dr. Li is also interested in designing new tools through biomedical signal analyses to predict disease progression and monitor health status. His current research activities include examining the association of circadian function and autonomic function with cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and the role of sleep/circadian control in cognitive function/resilience in more vulnerable populations such as people living with HIV infection.

Milena Pavlova, MD 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.

Michael J. Prerau, PhD focuses on experimental and computational approaches to understanding the neural correlates of consciousness in humans—specifically how sleep affects the brain. His lab specializes in using the state-of-the-art in quantitative approaches to develop novel statistical signal processing algorithms for the analysis of neural data, with direct applications to basic science, biomarker discovery, and medical device development.

Jingyi Qian, PhD focuses on the physiological mechanisms by which timing of behavior, such as food intake and physical activity, can interact with the circadian system, and synergistically affect cardiometabolic outcomes. She is also interested in understanding the interindividual differences based on sex and genetics in these interactions.

Stuart F. Quan, MD 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.

Shadab A. Rahman, PhD, MPH is interested in sleep and circadian neurophysiology. His primary research interest is in basic and applied circadian photobiology. He has been studying how the spectral, duration and pattern characteristics of light modulate behavioral, endocrine and molecular outputs that are under the control of the biological clock. My secondary interest is in peripheral rhythms including metabolic, immune and reproductive rhythms. He is exploring the endogenous circadian regulation of these rhythms and the effects of light exposure on these rhythms. His goal is to combine the findings from these two research streams to develop effective photobiologic countermeasures for circadian disruption.

Shantha W. Rajaratnam, PhD 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, MD, MPH's research includes epidemiological studies and clinical trials designed to 1) elucidate the etiologies of sleep disorders, including the role of genetic, social, environmental 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; has led large cohort studies; and leads several large randomized controlled trials and a program that links genetics to deep sleep apnea phenotypes. She founded and co-directs the National Sleep Research Resource, an international sleep data sharing repository that has focused on making research data easily searchable and accessible, including complex physiological signals captured by overnight sleep studies.

Rebecca Robbins, PhD has research interests that are focused on developing novel behavioral interventions using communication and marketing theory to promote adherence to recommended sleep apnea care. She is also interested in developing interventions and tools to address health disparities in sleep outcomes.

Joseph M. Ronda, MS 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.

Scott A. Sands, PhD seeks to break new ground in personalized treatment of sleep apnea. He aims to better understand the causes of sleep apnea, to develop new technology for recognizing these causes clinically, and to find out what factors predict individual patient responses to treatments.

Frank A.J.L. Scheer, PhD 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, melatonin, genetics and food timing.

Melissa A. St. Hilaire, PhD is focused on both computational and experimental approaches to understanding the impact of sleep and circadian rhythms on human health and performance.

Tamar Sofer, PhD is interested in the development and implementation of novel statistical methods to study the genetic basis and “omics” correlates of sleep characteristics and related conditions.

Heming Wang, PhD is interested in the genetic basis and cardiovascular consequences of sleep and sleep disorders by analyzing genomics and other -omics data.

Rui Wang, PhD 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, PhD 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.

Matthew D. Weaver, PhD is interested in applying sleep and circadian principles to improve occupational safety. His work has primarily focused on the occupational safety of emergency medical services providers, who are often faced with challenging work schedules and operational demands in a high-risk environment. He is further interested in communicating the value of identifying and treating common sleep disorders in the occupational setting.

D. Andrew Wellman, MD 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, MD 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.

Robin K. Yuan, PhD's research interests include memory and performance effects of sleep and circadian disruption, particularly in regard to how these effects manifest in a healthy, aged population.

Kirsi-Marja Zitting, PhD is interested in understanding the effects of aging on circadian and homeostatic regulation of sleep and performance. Her previous research sought to understand the age-related changes in the molecular mechanisms regulating sleep homeostasis. Dr. Zitting's current research goals include studying the impact sleep quality on subsequent alertness and performance in both young and older adults.

Last updated on March 4, 2022

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

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