Professor of Clinical Neurology
Research Director Sleep Medicine Program
BiographyAs an investigator, I have been involved with the Northern Manhattan Study and the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) since 2010. Further, I was the Miami site-PI for the ancillary sleep study, Sueño (R01HL098297)-Sleep as a Risk Factor for Disease in HCHS/SOL. Sueño aimed to determine the prevalence of abnormal sleep patterns in 2,200 Latinos using actigraphy. I was the PI for an HCHS/SOL ancillary study that evaluated sleep apnea, actigraphic sleep duration with impaired cerebral hemodynamics using transcranial Doppler ultrasound in 98 participants at the Miami field site. The study was supported by a mentored research award from the Clinical Translational Research Institute at the Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, FL.
This work led to an R01 (R01AG067568), titled Sleep in Neurocognitive Aging and Alzheimer’s Research (www.sanarbrain.com), which is a five-year, $13 million grant from the National Institutes of Aging to Study the impact of obstructive sleep apnea and nocturnal blood pressure on the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in Hispanic/Latino adults.
Education & Training
Post Graduate Training
Honors & Awards
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Teaching InterestsMy strong research background permeates my teaching philosophy. I believe in teaching critical thinking, evidence based practice and understanding of clinical research to clinicians as a tool to better serve and improve the life our patients. I am committed to maintaining a pipeline of physician-scientist that I trained and nurture through mentoring practices and by being a role model to my mentees.
I Chair the Grand Rounds Committee for the Department of Neurology since 2019. The Neurology Grand Round series is bi-weekly, CME accredited that provides commercial free, evidenced based lectures on clinical-translational topics in neurology and neuroscience. We have been able to implement virtual lectures since COVID-19 and continued joint Grand Rounds with the Departments of Psychiatry, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. We had world renowned lecturers and UM Faculty. Overall the Grand Rounds series received excellent reviews. Our series consist of three different types of presentation: a single presenter, providing a high level lecture of a cutting edge topic (similar to a Plenary session at a National/International meeting), a clinical-translational presentation provided by a pair (or more) of basic scientist and clinician and a round table presentation, where a various faculty members from a division (e.g. multiple sclerosis or stroke) discuss a clinical and research topic.
Research InterestsThe SANAR lab is dedicated to understanding the mechanisms linking sleep health to later life cognitive and brain health. Our research program aims to ultimately understand how sleep disorders affect the risk for early cognitive decline, mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease in a diverse, large sample of Latinos. Our research program identified the important role for ethnicity, and the sociocultural factors that could explain differences in sleep symptoms, sleep disorders and sleep patterns in minorities; as well as their associated impact on health. Published studies identified differences in sleep disturbances (snoring, sleepiness, long sleep) among Hispanic/Latinos, non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic whites, associated with depression and cardiometabolic diseases. Our research program collaborates with genetic statisticians that helped defined traits associated with sleep apnea and sleep hypoxemia. Our findings provide the rationale for studies that address sleep and cognitive health disparities. Our results have provided important estimates of the effect that sleep disorders and sleep patterns have on cognitive performance and declines in memory, executive function and processing speed. These studies also determined the detrimental effect of sleep apnea and sleep patterns on cerebrovascular risk factors, including hypertension, non-dipping of blood pressure, left ventricular mass, cerebral hemodynamics, white matter hyperintensities and decreased brain volumes, among other outcomes.
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