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Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem
field because of the need for a coordinated interdisciplinary researchapproach to basic and clinical research, clinical care, public education, and training. Therefore, the NIH should establish Somnologyand Sleep Medicine Centers of Excellence within a National Somnology and Sleep Medicine Research and Clinical Network.
The field of somnology and sleep medicine is poised to take great strides in elucidating and addressing the etiology, pathogenesis, and public health burden of chronic sleep loss and sleep disorders. This strong position is the result of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) establishing the Trans-NIH Sleep Research Coordinating Committee and the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR). However, at the same time that the science and magnitude of the problem requires greater investment, NIH funding to sleep-related activities has reached a plateau. Consequently, the future outlook for somnology and sleep medicine is unclear. The next significant advances necessitate leveraging these resources to their utmost potential in conducting research and refining diagnosis and treatment interventions for sleep loss and sleep disorders.
This chapter provides an overview of the current coordination of sleep-related activities at the NIH, including an evaluation of the NCSDR. Included in the evaluation is a detailed a summary of sleep-related research activities sponsored by the NIH between 1995 and 2004. The chapter culminates with a discussion on the next steps required to accelerate progress, including the establishment of a National Somnology and Sleep Medicine Research and Clinical Network.
NIH COORDINATION OF SLEEP-RELATED ACTIVITIES
To a greater extent than many medical and research disciplines, the field of somnology and sleep medicine cuts across many disciplines, including but not limited to cardiology, dentistry, endocrinology, epidemiology, geriatrics, molecular biology, neurology, neurosciences, nursing, nutrition, otolaryngology, pediatrics, pharmacology, psychiatry, and pulmonology. In 2004, there were 331 sleep-related research project grants sponsored by 17 institutes at the NIH (Table 8-1, Appendix G). The NIH has two mechanisms to coordinate its sleep-related activities, the Trans-NIH Sleep Research Coordinating Committee and the NCSDR.