Stanford Medicine scientists receive $10 million for research on sleep and autism


A gaggle of Stanford Medication scientists have been awarded roughly $10 million from the Nationwide Institutes of Well being’s Autism Facilities of Excellence program. The funding, introduced by the NIH Sept. 6, will help analysis on the connection between sleep dysregulation and autism signs.

That is the primary time Stanford College has been designated an Autism Heart of Excellence by this NIH program, which was created in 2007 and is renewed each 5 years. Stanford College is certainly one of 9 establishments to obtain the designation on this funding cycle.

Autism is a developmental dysfunction that impacts 1 in 54 youngsters nationwide. It’s characterised by deficits in social communication, sensory aberrations, stereotypic behaviors and restricted pursuits. Poor sleep is a standard facet of the dysfunction, the researchers defined.

As many as 80% of kids with autism spectrum dysfunction expertise sleep disruptions, together with problem falling asleep and problem sleeping by means of the evening. These sleep disturbances are one of the vital burdensome signs reported by mother and father of kids with autism. In flip, poor sleep is related to exacerbated severity of core autism signs, together with repetitive behaviors and social and communication difficulties.”  

Joachim Hallmayer, MD, Principal Investigator, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford Medication

The brand new award will fund three analysis groups and their tasks:

  • Ruth O’Hara, PhD, the Lowell W. and Josephine Q. Berry Professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and senior affiliate dean for analysis within the College of Medication, and Makoto Kawai, MD, medical affiliate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, will lead a examine that  characterizes sleep and mind exercise in youngsters with autism as in comparison with sometimes creating youngsters.

    The researchers will assess sleep fragmentation; sleep structure, which incorporates the quantity and timing of REM and non-REM sleep; and daytime mind exercise, as measured by awake, resting-state electroencephalography, within the two teams. The scientists will look at whether or not any facet of sleep dysregulation is related to autism signs or cognitive functioning.


  • Antonio Hardan, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences in addition to the director of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic at Stanford Medication Youngsters’s Well being, will lead a group finding out the results of three sleep-inducing drugs on sleep structure, circadian rhythm and sleep high quality in youngsters and youths with autism. This group may also examine whether or not modifications in sleep amongst autistic people taking the drugs result in modifications of their autism signs.

  • Philippe Mourrain, PhD, affiliate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, will use zebrafish fashions of autism to look at brainwide exercise throughout sleep, and hyperlink this knowledge to eye motion, coronary heart charge and motion of voluntary muscle tissues. The zebrafish may also be used to gather detailed data on how sleep-inducing drugs have an effect on the mind in autism.

“Our groups will, for the primary time, take a look at to what extent dysregulated sleep, together with sleep fragmentation, is central to the event and signs of ASD, and whether or not sleep normalization alleviates these signs,” stated O’Hara, who may also lead the executive core of the grant with Hallmayer.

“This analysis has the potential to supply large reduction to youngsters with ASD and their mother and father or caregivers,” O’Hara stated.

Different investigators contributing to this effort embrace Lawrence Fung, MD, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, who’s main the ACE dissemination core; Booil Jo, PhD, affiliate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, who’s main the ACE analytic core; and Jennifer Phillips, PhD, medical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, who’s main the ACE evaluation core.

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