Carlos Singer, M.D., Awarded Grant to Study Breathing Disorders in Parkinson’s Patients

Carlos Singer, M.D., professor of neurology and director of the Miller School’s Center of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders, has received a $250,000 grant from the National Parkinson Foundation to study the presence of sleep-related breathing disorders in patients with the degenerative central nervous system syndrome and their effect on cognitive abilities.

Poor sleep is known to affect the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s, and there is evidence it may contribute to decreased cognition and to trauma and injury associated with fatigue. Singer’s novel study, which is being carried out in collaboration with Shirin Shafazand, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and a member of the Sleep Disorder Center, and Douglas Wallace, M.D., assistant professor of neurology, will evaluate the prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing, a group of sleep syndromes that include obstructive sleep apnea.

“We will also be treating this disorder and examining if such treatment favorably improves the patients’ cognition,’’ Singer said. “This type of investigation has never been done at such a level of systematic inquiry and we expect the results will yield significant, immediate and practical recommendations on the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.”

The two-year study, which will enroll 200 people with Parkinson’s and include both English- and Spanish-speakers, is one of three clinical research projects the National Parkinson Foundation is funding this year at three of its 43 Centers of Excellence in the U.S. and Canada, of which the Miller School’s Center for Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders is one.

“Each of these projects can have an immediate impact on the lives of Parkinson’s patients,’’ said Joyce Oberdorf, the foundation’s president and CEO. “Both sleep issues and cognition are important, but often overlooked, contributors to the burden of the disease.”

Founded in 1957, the National Parkinson Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of care for people with Parkinson’s through research, education, and outreach. The foundation has funded more than $155 million in care, research and support services since 1982.

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