National Sleep Disorders Research Plan
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Progress Since the 1996
Research Recommendations















Although clinical activities and opportunities in the sleep field are expanding, a larger and more interdisciplinary scientific work force is needed if we are to fully address the scientific questions discussed above. Attracting new basic and clinical investigators to this field represents a major challenge for the field if we are to meet the expanding research needs and opportunities. Some of the potential barriers include:

The perceived difficulty of defining sleep phenotypes in mice/rats, thereby making molecular and genetic studies more difficult.

The perceived difficulty of studying a "state" in very reduced preparations or cell lines.

The challenges posed to clinical research by the need for objective measurement of sleep-wake physiology and behavior using cumbersome and expensive technology, and the need to control a wide range of factors, limit effective measurement of sleep-wake processes in naturalistic environments.

"Sleep science" does not have Division or Departmental status at most medical centers. As a consequence, designated space, faculty positions, access to graduate students and potential for collaboration are all limited.

Novel strategies to increase the number and scope of sleep investigators need to be identified and implemented. There is an acute need for additional dedicated Sleep Medicine training programs and for investigators in other training programs ( e.g., neurobiology, genetics, aging, pulmonology, neurology, psychiatry, pediatrics and neuropathology) to train sleep scientists. Sleep is a highly interdisciplinary field and successful sleep centers therefore require scientific and clinical expertise from multiple disciplines with a sufficient critical mass of investigators focused on sleep in order to achieve scientific progress. The association between basic sleep investigators and clinical scientists at these sleep centers also promotes translational research that can yield results more immediately applicable to patient care and public health interventions. Due to a lack of a critical mass of sleep investigators at most medical centers, this goal may demand a more regional or national approach than is needed for most other disciplines. This may also require a n iterative process by which integrated, multidisciplinary sleep centers are carefully developed with substantial training programs and the increasing dispersal of well-trained program graduates can then contribute to development of new sleep centers.

In addition to attracting new investigators to the sleep field, there is a need to expand the number of trained scientists from other relevant disciplines electing to focus on sleep-related research. These disciplines include informatics, epidemiology and genetic epidemiology, clinical trials, functional imaging, genetics, and molecular biology. Without collaborators having these specific skills, sleep science will not be able to utilize currently available technologies and methodologies and hence will have diminished potential for progress. Ongoing training and expanded collaborative opportunities are needed, as is a comprehensive plan to attract, train and retain new scientists, and to continue expanding the skills of current investigators.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Department of Health and Human Services (click here) First Gov Website (Click here)
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (Click Here) National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (Click Here)