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Man Sleeping

Dr. Ramos and the SANAR Lab: Advancing Sleep and Aging Research

Pioneering Sleep and Cognitive Health Research

Pioneering Sleep and Cognitive Health Research

In 2007, inspired by mentors Dr. Tatjana Rundek, MD, PhD and Dr. Ralph L. Sacco, MD, MS, I embarked on a journey to enhance sleep and cognitive health in diverse populations. My collaboration with Dr. Sacco on a supplemental grant for the Northern Manhattan Study marked the beginning of this venture. During this period, I initiated collaborations with the Hispanic Community Health Study (HCHS) team, led by Dr. Neil Schneiderman, PhD, who significantly supported my career and research development. This collaboration expanded to include sleep experts like Dr. Susan Redline, MD, MPH, Dr. Hector González, PhD, and Dr. Wassim Tarraf, PhD.


Expanding Research on Sleep Health Disparities

My research on sleep health disparities soon led to a co-investigator role in the HCHS/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL). This extensive, multicenter observational study of 16,415 Hispanic/Latinos in the US aims to identify disease prevalence and risk factors, including stroke and sleep apnea, and explore the impact of health disparities on these conditions. As the Miami site Principal Investigator for the NIH/NHLBI-funded Sueño study, we focused on sleep patterns as a risk factor for diseases in the Hispanic community. This study recruited 2,200 participants, including 686 from the Miami site, to understand the predictors of abnormal sleep habits and their relationship with cardiometabolic disorders.


Advancing Cerebral Hemodynamics and Sleep Research

In 2013, I received a K12 grant from the Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI) at the Miller School of Medicine. The K12 study's objective was to evaluate cerebral hemodynamics and vasomotor reactivity in participants from the HCHS/SOL Miami site, using home sleep studies and actigraphy. This grant, coupled with mentorship and collaborative support, led to significant partnerships within the Hispanic Community Health Study. Collaborations with experts like Dr. Wassim Tarraf, PhD,  Dr. Hector González, PhD, and Dr. Charles DeCarli, MD, resulted in numerous high-impact publications and funded research projects, including two R21 grants and the recent R01 grant on Sleep in Neurocognitive Aging and Alzheimer’s Research (SANAR).


Research Goals and Impact on Cognitive Health

Our research program strives to understand how sleep disorders influence early cognitive decline, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease in a diverse Latino population. We investigate the role of ethnicity and sociocultural factors in sleep symptoms, disorders, and patterns among minorities, and their health impacts. Our published studies reveal variations in sleep disturbances among Hispanic/Latinos, non-Hispanic blacks, and non-Hispanic whites, linking these to depression and cardiometabolic diseases. Collaborating with genetic statisticians, we have identified traits associated with sleep apnea and hypoxemia. These findings underpin future studies addressing sleep and cognitive health disparities. Our results provide vital insights into the effects of sleep disorders and patterns on cognitive performance, memory, executive function, and processing speed. Moreover, we have explored the adverse impact of sleep apnea and sleep patterns on cerebrovascular risk factors, such as hypertension, altered blood pressure patterns, left ventricular mass, cerebral hemodynamics, white matter hyperintensities, and brain volume changes.

Alberto R. Ramos, MD, MS, FAASM, FAAN

Professor of Clinical Neurology

Research Director, Sleep Disorders Program

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