Sleep Disorders Center receives $2.35 million in federal support
The Sleep Disorders Center in the Department of Neurology has recently received
three separate grants totaling $2.35 million from the National Institutes
of Health (NIH). Donald L. Bliwise, associate professor of neurology and
center director, says that this funding will lead to discoveries regarding
the basis of age-related changes in sleep.
Age effects of sleep, often associated with a variety of sleep-related symptoms,
have been documented in studies by Bliwise and others. Changes in deep sleep,
alterations in circadian rhythms and development of disturbed breathing
in sleep, commonly called sleep apnea, have all been noted in the elderly.
These findings serve as the basis for the center's current work, which will
study not only healthy elderly subjects, but also those with diseases particularly
affecting the aged including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and
stroke. "For years, we have had some rudimentary descriptive studies
suggesting that sleep is altered in these diseases," said Bliwise.
"What these grants will allow us to do is to probe the mechanisms underlying
the observed changes in far greater detail than ever before."
Bliwise came to Emory four years ago from Stanford University to direct
the Sleep Disorders Center, which is located at the Wesley Woods Geriatric
Hospital. It is the only sleep disorders center located in a geriatric facility
in the United States.
One of the NIH grants, funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA),
will examine circadian rhythms of body temperature and sleep in aging by
having subjects sleep according to an unusual pattern of being asleep for
30 minutes and then awake for 60 minutes over a period of 84 hours. Another
grant, funded by the National Institute of Neurologic Disease and Stroke,
will examine motor activity during sleep in Parkinson's disease in both
humans and animals. The animal studies will be headed by Robert Turner,
instructor of neurology, and David Rye, assistant professor of neurology.
The third grant, an epidemiological study also funded by NIA, is a continuation
of a follow-up study of health and sleep in a healthy elderly group in northern
California which Bliwise was involved with during his work at Stanford.
The study is being conducted as part of a subcontract with SRI International
of Menlo Park, Calif.
Bliwise, who is the principal investigator on two of the grants and co-principal
investigator on the third, said this infusion of funds will help Emory achieve
national prominence in the growing field of sleep disorders. "Sleep
studies are extraordinarily labor-intensive to perform and analyze,"
he said, "and it takes a critical mass of personnel and resources to
carry these out. This funding will allow further development of our program
at Emory and at Wesley Woods."
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