Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center

Bradley Hospital Receives $10M to Establish Sleep, Circadian Rhythms Research Center

Mary Carskadon, PhD, is director of chronobiology and sleep research at Bradley Hospital, a diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and an expert in sleep patterns, particularly in children and adolescents.

Bradley Hospital has received a $10,124,077 federal grant to create the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) for Sleep and Circadian Rhythms in Child and Adolescent Mental Health.

The objective of this COBRE, funded with a five-year grant from the NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences, is to establish a comprehensive and sustainable resource to support the growth of research in pediatric sleep, circadian rhythms, and mental health. It will guide diverse research project leaders in achieving expertise in the field, bringing this knowledge to their clinical work, and transitioning to independent scientific careers with external funding.

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 least because these factors are amenable to behavioral change and to defined therapeutic targeting.

The first National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research center with an explicit focus on sleep, circadian rhythms, and pediatric mental health, the COBRE center will host training in the assessment of pediatric mental health and in sleep and circadian theory, science, and methods for research project leaders, pilot project applicants, and research staff. The COBRE program provides awards for three sequential five-year phases; Bradley Hospital received $10 million for the first phase.

Proposed research initiatives at the center include:

  • A project analyzing how using green space impacts sleep and mental health in primary school children from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds.  
  • A project using an intensive sleep and chronobiology approach along with neuroimaging to determine how sleepiness and memory in early adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are affected by sleep bioregulatory factors.  
  • A project taking a prospective approach to query the roles of sleep patterns and circadian timing in the progression of bipolar illness in children and early adolescents.  

The goal of this COBRE is to ease the burden of these issues for children, adolescents, and their families through enhancing the research workforce and capabilities. The promise of this COBRE to fulfill its mission as a true center of biomedical research excellence is strong. The most important, special, and notable aspect of this proposed center is the vulnerable population at the heart of our work.

The COBRE aims to build a bridge from the sleep and circadian knowledge base and research methods to the outstanding mental health research and clinical care that characterize Bradley Hospital.