By the late 20th century, spurred by an increasingly large body of research in the physiology of sleep, the medical community recognized the need to treat sleep disorders. These range from relatively benign conditions causing discomfort, such as restless leg syndrome, to a severe disorder, obstructive sleep apnea, closely associated with cardiovascular disorders such as hypertension and stroke.
Sleep laboratories, where patients could be studied under conditions mimicking their natural sleep environment, began to emerge. These labs use a device called a polysomnograph to record a wide variety of physiologic activities including neurologic function (electrencephalography and electromyography), heart activity (electrocardiography), breathing patterns and blood oxygen saturation.
The Center for Sleep Disorders Treatment, Research and Education at JFK Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey, a unit of the New Jersey Neuroscience Institute, is an internationally recognized center of excellence in the treatment of sleep disturbances. It is also the home of the School of Health and Medical Sciences' (SHMS) Sleep Medicine Fellowship Program, where postgraduates come from all over the world to take the year-long clinical fellowship leading to certification by the American Board of Sleep Medicine.
This program boasts a distinguished faculty that includes Divya Gupta, MD, Peter Poulos, MD, and Sushant Bhatt, MD, all led by Sudhansu Chokroverty, MD, (known affectionately as "Dr. Chok"), a world-renowned expert in the field of sleep medicine.
Chokroverty (pictured above) has published more than 150 articles in peer-reviewed journals and a similar number of book chapters and conference proceedings. Not surprisingly, he has garnered a long list of awards over the course of his distinguished career. Chokroverty is also the editor in-chief of Sleep Medicine, the foremost peer-reviewed journal in the field, and is best known for his textbook, Sleep Disorders Medicine: Basic Science, Technical Considerations and Clinical Aspects (Saunders, Philadelphia, 2009), with a new edition currently in preparation.
Clinical and Didactic Education
The sleep medicine program is highly competitive, with a coterie of physicians already trained in a medical specialty, such as pulmonary medicine or neurology, vying for four precious spots as clinical fellows. In addition to hands-on (literally bedside) clinical exposure to patients, they undergo a rigorous didactic program known as "sleep school," consisting of lectures and discussions ("journal club") of the most recent literature in the field. They have an extensive record of scholarly activity with numerous presentations at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine annual meetings. They also publish extensively in the peer-reviewed literature, with nine articles since 2012.
At any given time, the sleep medicine center is the nucleus of a dedicated group of specialists with the single-minded goal of improving sleep hygiene in their patients.
To learn more about the Sleep Medicine Fellowship Program, contact John W. Sensakovic, MD, PhD, Associate Dean for the Division of Medical Residencies and Fellowships at SHMS, at (973) 275-2031.
This story originally appeared in the 2013 issue of Insights magazine, published annually by the School of Health and Medical Sciences. Read the rest of the magazine here.
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