Psychiatry Center for Sleep & Brain Health Research | NYU Langone Health

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Department of Psychiatry Research Psychiatry Center for Sleep & Brain Health Research

Psychiatry Center for Sleep & Brain Health Research

The Center for Sleep and Brain Health, part of NYU Langone’s Department of Psychiatry, conducts clinical studies to better understand the protective and physiological effects of sleep on the brain.

In the past, the research community considered the science of sleep to be a branch of psychology. Only recently did a field of medicine specifically dedicated to sleep emerge. Advances in neuroimaging, electrophysiology and the development of new plasma and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers are increasing the prominence of a neuroscientific perspective in sleep research.

The fundamental questions in the study of sleep largely remain to be clarified. Our researchers continue to investigate why people sleep, what happens to the brain during sleep, and the consequences of disturbed sleep on the brain and on memory.

The Center for Sleep and Brain Health, led by Ricardo S. Osorio, MD, collaborates with the Department of Neurology’s Center for Cognitive Neurology (CCN) and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, and the Department of Population Health’s Center for Healthful Behavior Change, as well as the Mount Sinai Integrative Sleep Center to study sleep, normal aging, memory processing, and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Current Studies

We are currently conducting several studies.

The Sleep Amyloid, Slow Wave Race, and Ethnicity Study (Sleep AWARE Study)

With the Sleep AWARE study, Dr. Osorio and his colleagues are examining how race and ethnicity, genes, and other factors affect an individual’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Poor sleep is thought to contribute to increased risk of developing the disease. African Americans, in particular, have poorer quality sleep and shorter sleep duration and thus may be at greater risk. Our team is comparing sleep characteristics among African Americans and non-Hispanic whites and their effects on Alzheimer’s disease, with the hope of developing targeted treatments and precision medicine approaches for this specific population. This study was developed in collaboration with our colleagues Girardin Jean-Louis, PhD, and Ferdinand Zizi, in the Department of Population Health.

For more information about this clinical trial, contact Christina Madera at christina.madera@nyulangone.org. View additional study details, including eligibility criteria.

Phosphorus, Proton Imaging, and Amyloid Burden (PREPARE Study)

Oxidative phosphorylation and aerobic glycolysis are the two major mechanisms involved in brain energetics. The cause of the deposition of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer’s disease is unknown. Some scientists argue that an increase in oxidative phosphorylation activity and a lack of ability to shift to aerobic glycolysis are the underlying source of these changes.

The purpose of this study is to test whether there is a correlation between neuroenergetic levels of aerobic glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation and Alzheimer’s disease risk. We are studying these neuroenergetic adaptations in a group of 15 participants, ages 70 to 85 years, with amnestic mild cognitive impairment and 30 cognitively normal controls. Multimodal (MRI/PET) and multinuclear (31P/1H) neuroimaging are providing access to a uniquely comprehensive and highly consistent view of neuroenergetic adaptations in both the clinical and preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information about this clinical trial, contact Eirene Oji at eirene.oji@nyulangone.org

Sleep, Aging and Risk for Alzheimer’s (SARA 2.0 Study)

The Sleep, Aging and Risk for Alzheimer’s (SARA 2.0 Study) is investigating the relationship between obstructive sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s disease risk. We are interested in seeing how the adverse effects of obstructive sleep apnea may impact the development of amyloid plaques in the brain, which is one of the biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease. During sleep, the brain cleans out excessive waste buildup such as amyloid plaques. Therefore, poor sleep quality is thought to contribute to an increased risk for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers hope to further explain this phenomenon through studying a population with disruptive sleeping patterns. Sleep is evaluated through nocturnal polysomnography, PET/MR brain scans following amyloid deposition, and cognitive testing administered over 2 years to determine longitudinal effects of obstructive sleep apnea and normal aging. This study’s observations may assist in a future program to slow Alzheimer’s disease progression through secondary prevention methods such as obstructive sleep apnea treatment.

For more information about this clinical trial, contact Shayna Pehel at shayna.pehel@nyulangone.org.

Locus-Coeruleus Function in Normal Elderly and AD risk (LEAD Study)

Growing evidence suggests that Alzheimer’s disease begins decades before symptoms develop. Tau neurofibrillary tangles, one of the two proteins that aggregate in the brain can be observed in certain brain areas like the locus coeruleus since midlife, suggesting that Alzheimer’s disease can start very early in life. We have previously demonstrated functional vulnerability (measured by lower uptake of a PET tracer in the brain) of the locus coeruleus to aging and stress, as well as an association between higher CSF tau and disrupted sleep. We now aim to test whether lower uptake of a tau tracer (i.e., locus coeruleus dysfunction) can be measured in young elderly and whether it objectively affects sleep architecture and attention.

For more information about this clinical trial, contact Dishari Azad at dishari.azad@nyulangone.org.

Current Grants

Our research is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

National Institute of Aging

Slow Wave Sleep (SWS) and the Effect of African Ancestry on Amyloid Burden, a Longitudinal Study (Sleep AWARE); R01AG056531

Neuroenergetic Adaptations in Alzheimer's Disease: Implications on Amyloid Burden and Cognition; 1R21AG061579-01

Sleep, Aging, and Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease (SARA 2.0); 2R01AG056031-05A1

Locus-Coeruleus Function in Normal Elderly and AD risk (LEAD Study); 1R21 AG067549-01

Research Training

Dr. Osorio offers training through the American Federation for Aging Research’s Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) Program to students pursuing a master’s of neuroscience at NYU.

Research Faculty and Staff

Ricardo S. Osorio, MD
Center Director

Omonigho M. Bubu, MD, MPH, PhD
Research Assistant Professor

Arlener D. Turner, PhD
Research Assistant Professor

Eirene Oji
Research Data Associate

Eirene Oji graduated from Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey, in 2018 with a bachelor of science in public health. At Rutgers, she gained an interest in health disparities research and the support efforts that are needed to address disparities that exist in science and society. As a research data associate in our laboratory, her primary focus is the Sleep AWARE study.

Christina Madera
Research Data Associate

Christina Madera graduated with a bachelor of arts in public relations from the State University of New York at Oswego in 2016. Her academic background is in marketing, broadcasting, and community outreach. Her work experience has focused on Alzheimer’s disease and its effects on specific populations. As our research data associate, she works on the Sleep AWARE study and plans Alzheimer’s disease educational training and community recruitment events.

Shayna Pehel
Research Data Associate

Shayna Pehel graduated from Binghamton University with a bachelor of science degree in integrative neuroscience in 2019. Studying the connections between psychology and biology gave her a solid foundation on which to build her interests. She is interested in pursuing further education as a nurse practitioner and aspires to specialize in neurology. She currently works with the Sleep, Aging and Risk for Alzheimer’s (SARA 2.0) cohort.

Dishari Azad
Research Data Associate

Dishari Azad graduated from CUNY Queens College in 2016, with a bachelor of arts in psychology. During her academic years, she developed an interest in the effects of brain damage on behavior and the mind. As a research data associate in our laboratory, she primarily works on the Sleep AWARE, LEAD, and PREPARE studies. Furthermore, she is in charge of bio-specimen management across our various studies.

Contact Us

For more information about our research laboratory, please contact Dr. Osorio at ricardo.osoriosuarez@nyulangone.org.

Featured Publications

Our research team regularly publishes research on sleep, aging, and memory in peer-reviewed journals. Here is a selection of our recent publications.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Severity Affects Amyloid Burden in Cognitively Normal Elderly: A Longitudinal Study

Sharma, Ram A; Varga, Andrew W; Bubu, Omonigho M; Pirraglia, Elizabeth; Kam, Korey; Parekh, Ankit; Wohlleber, Margaret; Miller, Margo D; Andrade, Andreia; Lewis, Clifton; Tweardy, Samuel; Buj, Maja; Yau, Po L; Sadda, Reem; Mosconi, Lisa; Li, Yi; Butler, Tracy; Glodzik, Lidia; Fieremans, Els; Babb, James S; Blennow, Kaj; Zetterberg, Henrik; Lu, Shou E; Badia, Sandra G; Romero, Sergio; Rosenzweig, Ivana; Gosselin, Nadia; Jean-Louis, Girardin; Rapoport, David M; de Leon, Mony J; Ayappa, Indu; Osorio, Ricardo S

American journal of respiratory & critical care medicine. 2018 Apr 01; 197:933-943

Reduced Slow-Wave Sleep Is Associated with High Cerebrospinal Fluid Abeta42 Levels in Cognitively Normal Elderly

Varga, Andrew W; Wohlleber, Margaret E; Gimenez, Sandra; Romero, Sergio; Alonso, Joan F; Ducca, Emma L; Kam, Korey; Lewis, Clifton; Tanzi, Emily B; Tweardy, Samuel; Kishi, Akifumi; Parekh, Ankit; Fischer, Esther; Gumb, Tyler; Alcolea, Daniel; Fortea, Juan; Lleo, Alberto; Blennow, Kaj; Zetterberg, Henrik; Mosconi, Lisa; Glodzik, Lidia; Pirraglia, Elizabeth; Burschtin, Omar E; de Leon, Mony J; Rapoport, David M; Lu, Shou-En; Ayappa, Indu; Osorio, Ricardo S

Sleep. 2016 11 01; 39:2041-2048

Orexin-A is Associated With Increases in Cerebrospinal Fluid Phosphorylated-Tau in Cognitively Normal Elderly Subjects

Osorio, Ricardo S; Ducca, Emma L; Wohlleber, Margaret E; Tanzi, Emily B; Gumb, Tyler; Twumasi, Akosua; Tweardy, Samuel; Lewis, Clifton; Fischer, Esther; Koushyk, Viachaslau; Cuartero-Toledo, Maria; Sheikh, Mohammed O; Pirraglia, Elizabeth; Zetterberg, Henrik; Blennow, Kaj; Lu, Shou-En; Mosconi, Lisa; Glodzik, Lidia; Schuetz, Sonja; Varga, Andrew W; Ayappa, Indu; Rapoport, David M; de Leon, Mony J

Sleep. 2016 06 01; 39:1253-60

Apnea-induced rapid eye movement sleep disruption impairs human spatial navigational memory

Varga, Andrew W; Kishi, Akifumi; Mantua, Janna; Lim, Jason; Koushyk, Viachaslau; Leibert, David P; Osorio, Ricardo S; Rapoport, David M; Ayappa, Indu

Journal of neuroscience. 2014 Oct 29; 34:14571-7

Prevalence and clinical correlates of restless legs syndrome among psychogeriatric patients

Aguera-Ortiz L; Perez MI; Osorio RS; Sacks H; Palomo T

International journal of geriatric psychiatry. 2011 Dec ; 26:1252-9