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The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital

Sleep Medicine Research

University of Chicago pediatric sleep medicine scientists are some of the world's leading experts in both clinical and basic science research of sleep disorders. Here, we're focused on speeding the process by which new scientific discoveries made in the lab can be applied to improve patient care today and in the future. These efforts result in better care for our patients, as well as for children everywhere with sleep problems. For example, David Gozal, MD, a renowned pediatric sleep medicine physician-scientist, received international acclaim for his research into developing a urine test to detect sleep apnea. Similarly, Leila Kheirandish Gozal, MD, has developed a simple test that can screen for memory problems in children with sleep apnea.

Clinical Pediatric Sleep Medicine Research

Leila Kheirandish Gozal, MD, is director of pediatric clinical sleep research.

Our pediatric sleep medicine clinical research program is conducting several studies, including investigations into why and how sleep disorders occur; new ways to detect sleep disorders; associated medical, learning, and psychological complications of sleep disorders; and the effectiveness of new treatment strategies. Additional studies on sleep patterns and obesity in children and on how sleep apnea may lead to cardiovascular complications are also ongoing. Leila Kheirandish Gozal, MD, directs the clinical sleep research program.

Basic Science Sleep Research

Yang Wang, MD, PhD, is director of pediatric basic science sleep research.

Basic science research is conducted in laboratories and serves as the foundation for creation of new diagnostic techniques and treatment methods. University of Chicago scientists are actively investigating a diverse range of basic science questions in sleep research, including molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the disorders, neurocognitive and cardiovascular impairment in patients suffering from sleep disorders, and genetic and epigenetic links to the morbidity and progression of sleep disorders, among others. Yang Wang, MD, PhD, directs the basic sleep research program. Some of the research efforts under way include the following:

  • Identification of biological pathways and gene networks that are altered in children with obstructive sleep apnea and obesity, as well as animal models for intermittent hypoxia, sleep fragmentation.
  • Investigation of protein complexes and organelles that are affected during sleep fragmentation and hypoxia
  • Identification of physiological, cellular, and molecular processes involved in the origin and development of sleep disorders
  • Compensatory and decompensatory changes in mitochondria in response to hypoxia, hypercapnia, and sleep fragmentation
  • Involvement of mitochondrial carriers in ROS homeostasis and neuronal dysfunction in obstructive sleep apnea
  • Investigation of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)-associated cardiovascular consequences, such as atherosclerosis and endothelial dysfunction
  • Mechanisms whereby sleep disruption and intermittent hypoxia accelerate neurodegenerative diseases and interrelationships between, sleep, learning, memory and temperature regulation