Bradley Hospital receives $10M grant for first-of-its-kind sleep research center

EAST PROVIDENCE – Bradley Hospital has received a $10 million National Institutes of Health award to support the creation of the country’s research center aimed at exploring links between sleep and mental illness in children and adolescents.

The new Center for Sleep and Circadian Rhythms in Child and Adolescent Mental Health is funded through the NIH’s Center of Biomedical Research Excellence program. COBRE awards are separated into three five-year phases for projects.

Bradley’s award, announced in late April, is for the first five years of the sleep center.

During that time, researchers, led by Mary A. Carskadon, director of chronobiology and sleep research at Bradley, plan to analyze how the use of green space impacts sleep and mental health in children from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Later work will include examination on how sleep bioregulatory factors affect sleepiness and memory in young patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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A third project is to focus on how sleep patterns and circadian timing relate to the progression of bipolar disorder in children.

The center will also offer training and research resources.

Ultimately, researchers hope the center functions as a bridge between sleep knowledge and mental health care and research at Bradley, Carskadon said.

“Links between mental illness and sleep are indisputable; probing and identifying the links from sleep and circadian rhythms to pediatric mental illness and mental health can identify important pathways to prevention and early intervention, not the least because these factors are amenable to behavioral change and to defined therapeutic targeting,” she said.

The sleep center is especially timely, as demand for mental health care for children and adolescents has surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Michael Henderson, Lifespan Corp.’s vice president of research.

“This COBRE award will support novel research that leads to exceptional treatments and advances in child psychiatry and behavioral health,” Henderson said.

Elizabeth Graham is a PBN contributing writer.

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