Joseph Loscalzo, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Medicine, and Martin A. Samuels, MD, chair of the Department of Neurology at BWH and BWFH, have announced the creation of a new joint Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders that spans the departments of Medicine and Neurology.

Early last year, to serve the clinical needs of its patients, BWH and BWFH created the interdisciplinary Brigham and Women’s Sleep Disorders Service. The purpose of the new joint division will be to manage this service and ensure that faculty in both departments work together to integrate it with the vibrant research program, research training program, clinical training program and other education activities ongoing at the institutions.

The new division includes 58 faculty, 23 post-doctoral fellows and 96 staff members, and will be led by Division Chief Charles A. Czeisler, PhD, MD, FRCP. Stuart F. Quan, MD, will serve as clinical chief of the new division and medical director of the Brigham and Women’s Sleep Disorders Service, which is the only American Academy of Sleep Medicine-designated Comprehensive Academic Sleep Program of Distinction in New England for adult patients with sleep disorders. As the field of sleep disorders medicine is inherently multidisciplinary, this new division will work collaboratively with the departments of Anesthesia, Psychiatry, Radiology, Surgery and others to meet the needs of patients and advance knowledge of sleep and circadian disorders.

“The new joint division reflects the growing complexity of the field of sleep medicine, and offers new opportunities for the division to evolve and for the Brigham to maintain its international pre-eminence in the discipline,” said Loscalzo.

The new division provides diagnostic and treatment services for patients with sleep disorders in clinics at BWFH and South Shore Hospital, where specialists accredited in sleep medicine coordinate Home Sleep Testing and manage therapeutic alternatives for patients. The service includes a specialty program on Neurologic Complications of Sleep, including movement disorders, behavioral disturbances, epilepsy/seizure and stroke. As many patients with heart disease and diabetes also have obstructive sleep apnea, a second specialty clinic, the Healthy Sleep/Healthy Heart Clinic, has a multi-disciplinary team of sleep specialists, cardiologists, health educators, and respiratory therapists who work together to provide state-of-the-art diagnostic and long-term care for patients with heart disease or diabetes and a sleep disorder. At BWH, the BWH Sleep Disorders Service also provides inpatient consultations for all sleep disorders and limited channel sleep studies for evaluation of sleep disordered breathing. Last month, a newly-renovated and equipped four-bed diagnostic sleep laboratory for in-lab overnight polysomnography opened at BWFH, in addition to the four-bed diagnostic sleep laboratory at South Shore Hospital.

BWH has a long and distinguished history in the fields of sleep and circadian rhythm research and clinical care. In 1929, John F. Fulton, MD, and Percival Bailey, MD, working in the neurosurgery service of Harvey Cushing, MD, at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, first identified the anterior region of the hypothalamus as the brain center responsible for the timing of sleep within the 24-hour day (now recognized to be the site of the human circadian pacemaker within the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus). In 1956, C. Sidney Burwell, MD, and colleagues published one of the first case reports of a patient with what they called the Pickwickian Syndrome (now known as obstructive sleep apnea), who had been admitted to Peter Bent Brigham Hospital complaining of excessive daytime somnolence. Since then, pioneering research by BWH sleep scientists has led to the discovery of the resetting effect of light on, and the intrinsic period of, the human circadian pacemaker and the impact of both work hours and sleep disorders on health, safety and productivity.

The new joint division will continue this rich tradition into the future. Its faculty are recognized as world leaders in basic, clinical and epidemiological research, education and training of sleep scientists and sleep medicine specialists. The research conducted by the faculty addresses the entire breadth of this field, from studies of basic physiology, pharmacology and neurobiology to clinical studies, including studies of normal physiological processes during and influenced by sleep, pathophysiology of sleep disorders, treatments for sleep disorders, the impact of sleep on health, field studies of the effects of sleep loss in various populations and occupations and epidemiologic studies of sleep and its disorders.

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