The Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine

Types of Research Being Conducted at Stanford

Research can be broken down into two general categories: basic and patient-oriented. These areas are very closely linked as basic research paves the way for patient oriented research. In turn, the data obtained from patient research is instrumental in the work being conducted by the basic research scientists.

Basic Sleep Research

Basic research is conducted to increase our understanding about specific behaviors or phenomena. The goal of the research is not necessarily to solve or treat problems. Because the study of sleep is a fairly new science, there is tremendous opportunity for scientific breakthroughs in this area. Research conducted at Stanford has historically played a critical role in advancing the field of sleep medicine, such as Dr. Emmanuel Mignot’s discovery in 1999 that Narcolepsy is caused by a lack of the neurochemical hypocretin.

Patient-Oriented Research

There are two categories of patient-oriented research being conducted at Stanford – studies that involve medications or medical devices and those that do not.

Studies involving medications or medical devices

“Clinical trial” is an umbrella term for any research study with people involving medications or medical devices. These trials can have a variety of designs and are conducted to determine whether a drug or device is safe and effective. Stanford has been a pioneer in clinical trials into sleep disorders. For example, from 2003 to 2009, Dr. Clete Kushida conducted the largest ever clinical trial in sleep measuring the long-term effects of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy on neurocognitive functioning.

Studies that do not involve medications or medical devices

Not all research studies involve medications or interventions. Many studies simply gather data that our researchers use to further our understanding of the functions of sleep at the most basic molecular level as well as the mechanisms associated with sleep-wake regulation and sleep disorders. For example, at Stanford we collect blood samples from individuals with a specific sleep disorder in an effort to identify genetic similarities.

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