National Sleep Disorders Research Plan

The National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) was established within the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) via a provision of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Revitalization Act of 1993. The NCSDR was mandated to:

  • Conduct and support research, training, health information dissemination, and other activities with respect to a basic understanding of sleep and sleep disorders, including research on biological and circadian rhythms, chronobiology, and other sleep-related topics.
  • Coordinate the activities of the NCSDR with similar activities of other Federal agencies, including the other components of the National Institutes of Health, and similar activities of other public and nonprofit entities.

The legislation further provided for establishment of a Sleep Disorders Research Advisory Board and for development of a National Sleep Disorders Research Plan. The first Plan was released in 1996. It was broad and multidisciplinary, and its goal was "to improve the health, safety, and productivity of Americans by promoting basic, clinical, and applied research on sleep and sleep disorders." The Plan called for strengthening existing sleep research programs, creating new programs to address important research gaps and opportunities, applying state-of-the-art techniques and technologies to the study of sleep, and developing strategies for better understanding daytime sleepiness and reducing its negative impact on society. The Plan recognized that responding effectively to its research recommendations would require a multidisciplinary approach including all types of research (e.g., basic, clinical, applied) and research methods.

Much has changed since 1996. Stimulated in significant part by the 1996 Plan, sleep research funding by NIH has doubled. New research and new knowledge have vastly expanded the array of questions to be addressed, and new technologies have yielded new tools and mechanisms for a highly interdisciplinary broad-based approach to sleep research. It is in this context that revision of the 1996 National Sleep Disorders Research Plan was deemed necessary. The 2003 Revision summarizes the specific sleep research achievements since the 1996 Plan, identifies present gaps in our knowledge and understanding, and concludes with prioritized recommendations for future research. As with the 1996 Plan, the 2003 Plan is envisioned not as a blueprint, but as a dynamic springboard for the creativity of individual scientists, whose insights and initiative underlie research progress. We are confident that these recommendations will contribute in substantial ways to advancing the frontiers of biomedical knowledge related to sleep, enabling timely diagnosis and effective treatment, and improving the health of our nation through community-based public health education and intervention programs.

Elias Zerhouni, MD
Director, National Institutes of Health

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