Outstanding Early Investigator Award

This award recognizes an outstanding research effort by an early-stage investigator in the field of sleep research. The basis for evaluation of a candidate is a single, peer-reviewed publication reporting original research (not a review), supported by a senior investigator’s letter of recommendation that must address specific elements described below. The candidate must be the first author, and the article must be published or accepted for publication in 2018.

The award consists of a plaque and a travel honorarium to be applied toward travel to SLEEP 2019, the Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. The plaque and honorarium will be presented at a ceremony at SLEEP 2019, during the SRS Club Hypnos Reception, Sunday evening, June 9, 2019 in San Antonio, TX.

To be eligible, the candidate must:

  • Be the first author of the original, peer-reviewed publication,
  • Which must have been published or accepted for publication in 2018,
  • Be a member, in good standing, with the SRS,
  • Hold a terminal degree (PhD, MD, DO) and be within 7 years of having obtained such degree, as of the March 1, 2019 deadline. If the applicant has taken time away from research and is thus beyond 7 years of having obtained a terminal degree, then the applicant must provide a description of extenuating circumstances (e.g. clinical training, maternity/paternity leave or care of dependents).

Candidates must submit the completed Application Form, as a single PDF or Word Document, which includes:

  1. Complete citation of the article being submitted
  2. Brief description (100-word maximum) of the significance of the article
  3. A copy of the published article. If an article is in press at the time of application, a copy of the written notification of the article’s acceptance for publication must also be included
  4. The name of a senior investigator providing the letter of recommendation. The senior investigator does not need to be an author on the article but should be familiar with the candidate’s role on the research project
  5. Senior investigator letter of recommendation precisely describing the role of the applicant in the 1) design, 2) execution, 3) analysis and 4) writing of the article
  6. Brief description of extenuating circumstances, if applicant is not within 7 years of obtaining terminal degree (e.g., medical or family issues, clinical training period)

Multiple awards may be made, depending on the quality of the applications and availability of funds. Candidates are welcome to apply for the SRS Outstanding Early Investigator Award in addition to the Trainee Merit Awards, but in the event the candidate receives the SRS Outstanding Early Investigator Award, she/he will receive only this award.

2018 Recipients

 Thomas Andrillon, PhD
Thomas Andrillon, PhDMonash University
“Formation and suppression of acoustic memories during human sleep” published in Nature Communications 2017

Thomas Andrillon is an International Brain Research Organisation (IBRO) post-doctoral fellow at Monash University (Associate Professor Naotsugu Tsuchiya) and the University of New South-Wales (Associate Professor Joel Pearson) in Australia. Dr Andrillon earned a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris, France) in 2016 under the supervision of Prof Sid Kouider and in collaboration with Prof Damien Léger. During his PhD, he investigated the human brain’s ability to process auditory stimuli during sleep. Dr Andrillon showed in particular that healthy sleepers can access auditory information at the semantic level and make decisions based on this information, that they can attend to relevant signals during naps and that they can even learn.

In parallel, Dr Andrillon collaborated with Profs Giulio Tononi and Chiara Cirelli (University of Wisconsin at Madison) and Profs Itzhak Fried and Yuval Nir in Israel (University of Tel-Aviv), exploring sleep physiology in intracranially implanted epileptic patients. This very rare data allowed him to investigate sleep from the single-neuron activity to whole-brain recordings. This work led to the transformative discovery that most sleep rhythms (slow-waves and sleep spindles) are local. Through these studies, sleep appears characterised by fluid boundaries between sleep stages and wakefulness. The vision of sleep as a local, use-dependent process had a profound impact on the study of the healthy and pathological sleep and might explain how healthy sleepers can keep monitoring their environment but also why some sleepers have the sensation to be unable to sleep.

Daniel B. Kay, PhD
Daniel B. Kay, PhDBrigham Young University / University of Pittsburgh
“Subjective-objective sleep discrepancy is associated with alterations in regional glucose metabolism in patients with insomnia and good sleeper controls” published in SLEEP November 2017

Daniel B. Kay, PhD is an assistant professor of psychology at Brigham Young University. His commitment to the field of sleep medicine research spans the past decade. He obtained his doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of Florida in 2013 and completed his postdoctoral training in Translational Sleep Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. He is currently working towards licensure in the state of Utah in pursuit of establishing a Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic at BYU. His current research focuses on uncovering the pathophysiology of insomnia using sleep neuroimaging methods. His goal is to develop treatments that target the mechanisms linking insomnia to psychiatric disorders.

Daniel A. Lee, PhD
Daniel A. Lee, PhDCalifornia Institute of Technology
“Genetic and Neuronal Regulation of Sleep by Neuropeptide VF” published in eLife November 6, 2017

Daniel Lee’s research is performed in the zebrafish, Danio rerio, where he exploits the genetic amenability, optical transparency, and behavioral toolkits of this vertebrate model organism to identify ancestral sleep regulatory mechanisms that are conserved between invertebrates and vertebrates.

Daniel Lee received his Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine with Professor Seth Blackshaw, where his graduate research focused on underlying mechanisms of mammalian hypothalamic physiology and development. He is currently conducting his postdoctoral fellowship with Professor David Prober at the California Institute of Technology, where he investigates the genetic and neural circuit mechanisms of vertebrate sleep. In collaboration with others in the Prober lab, he participated in the first large-scale genetic screen for vertebrate sleep genes, and has identified that Neuropeptide VF and the neurons that express it, act as a novel neuropeptidergic sleep-promoting center in the vertebrate hypothalamus. The potential significance of Daniel Lee’s past and ongoing research has been recognized by a NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00), NARSAD Young Investigator Award, Joy Cappel Young Investigator Award, and a NINDS Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F32).

Andrey Zinchuk, MD
Andrey Zinchuk, MDYale University
“Polysomnographic phenotypes and their cardiovascular implications in obstructive sleep apnoea” published in Thorax September 21, 2017

After having worked as an engineer at Pfizer, Andrey Zinchuk received his MD from University of Connecticut, completed his residency training at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and his pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine fellowship at Yale University. As a clinician, he cares for patients with critical illness and sleep disorders. As an early career researcher, his work focuses on better understanding of physiologic heterogeneity of sleep apnea and its implications for cardiovascular disease and treatment outcomes.

During his fellowships at Yale, he worked under mentorship of Drs. Yaggi, Concato and Redeker, with whom he showed that polysomnographic phenotypes capturing various aspects of sleep apnea physiology (e.g. arousals, respiratory disturbance and limb movements) can better predict the risk of cardiovascular disease than the conventional measures of sleep apnea severity (i.e. apnea hypopnea index) and that treatment response varies by phenotype. He then showed that a physiologic sleep apnea trait, easy arousability, is associated with a marked reduction in long-term positive airway pressure adherence among the non-obese individuals, indicating that impact of physiologic sleep apnea traits on adherence is also phenotype dependent. He recently started a new position as an Instructor at Yale University’s Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, where with guidance of his Yale team and Dr. Wellman (Brigham & Women’s Hospital) he will continue to investigate how (and in which patients) the physiologic sleep apnea traits impact adherence to positive airway pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease. His ultimate goal is to use this data to inform phenotype-targeted intervention trials. Andrey has been supported by the NIH’s T32 program, the Patterson Foundation and the Parker B. Francis foundation awards.

Past Recipients

2017 – Ada Eban-Rothschild, PhD & Keith Hengen, PhD; Jason Gerstner, PhD, Jennifer C. Tudor, PhD & Shirley Xin Li, PhD, DClinPsy
2016 – Jonathan Lipton, MD, PhD, Divya Sitaraman, PhD & Andrea M. Spaeth, PhD
2015 – Christelle Anaclet, PhD & Sha Liu, PhD
2014 – Miranda Lim, MD, PhD, Rachel Markwald, PhD & Simon Warby, PhD
2013 – Josianne Broussard, PhD & John Lesku, PhD
2012 – Jeffrey Donlea, Maxine Bonjean & David Plante
2011 – Matthew Carter, PhD & Siobhan Banks, PhD
2010 – Eva Szentirmai, MD, Tracy Rupp, PhD & Mark R. Smith, PhD
2009 – Sara Aton, PhD, Georgina Cano, & Thien Thang Dang-Vu, MD, PhD