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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences 

Pitt Receives $9.8 Million from National Institute on Aging to Study Insomnia in the Elderly

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 1, 2010 – The University of Pittsburgh has received a $9.8 million grant from the National Institute on Aging to study insomnia in older adults. Insomnia affects nearly 25 percent of seniors and, in more severe forms, can lead to reduced quality of life, impaired function, higher health care costs and increased risk of other medical conditions. The goal of the five-year AgeWise study is to better understand the biological causes of insomnia in seniors.

“The strength of this research project is that we simultaneously can attack the problem on several different fronts,” said Timothy H. Monk, Ph.D., D.Sc., director of the Human Chronobiology Research Program at the Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic of UPMC and professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, who will serve as the lead research investigator. “Insomnia in seniors can result from biological clock problems, sleep intensity problems, stress and arousal issues, the functional anatomy of the patient’s brain, and particular issues of her or his genetic makeup. All of these different research issues will be covered in our AgeWise study.”

Dr. Monk stresses the need for this research in older adults given the prevalence of insomnia in this population, age-related changes in physiology and brain structure that are relevant to sleep-wake processes, and the many co-morbidities that often accompany advancing age. He points to a societal imperative, too, as the baby-boom generation reaches its seventh decade of life.

The AgeWise researchers are seeking people over 60 who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or who feel poorly rested despite having adequate opportunity for sleep.

Those who are eligible for the study will be given a detailed health screening, which will include a sleep evaluation. Before and after insomnia therapy they will participate in one of three different detailed laboratory evaluations lasting several days.

Compensation will be provided for completing the study. Those interested should contact the AgeWise toll-free number 1-866-647-8283. Some healthy seniors without sleep problems also will be recruited.

In addition to Dr. Monk, scientific leadership of AgeWise is provided by Daniel Buysse, M.D., Anne Germain, Ph.D., Martica Hall, Ph.D., Robert Krafty Ph.D., Sati Mazumdar Ph.D., and Vishwajit Nimgaonkar, M.D., all of the University of Pittsburgh.

About the Pitt School of Medicine

As one of the nation’s leading academic centers for biomedical research, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine integrates advanced technology with basic science across a broad range of disciplines in a continuous quest to harness the power of new knowledge and improve the human condition. Driven mainly by the School of Medicine and its affiliates, Pitt has ranked among the top 10 recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1997 and now ranks fifth in the nation, according to preliminary data for fiscal year 2008. Likewise, the School of Medicine is equally committed to advancing the quality and strength of its medical and graduate education programs, for which it is recognized as an innovative leader, and to training highly skilled, compassionate clinicians and creative scientists well-equipped to engage in world-class research. The School of Medicine is the academic partner of UPMC, which has collaborated with the University to raise the standard of medical excellence in Pittsburgh and to position health care as a driving force behind the region’s economy. For more information about the School of Medicine, see www.medschool.pitt.edu.

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