New Warwick-Boston research into causes of sleep disorders

**Two Warwick professors have been awarded a £176,431 grant from the Economics and Social Research Council (ESRC) for a project researching the link between sleep disorders and cognitive function.**

Dr Michelle Miller and Professor Francesco Cappuccio of Warwick Medical School (WMS) will be working as part of an established collaboration between the universities of Warwick and Boston, USA.**

The project begins on 30 December 2012 and continues until 1 August 2014.

Dr Miller told the _Boar_: “We are delighted to receive this funding. It will strengthen our ongoing Sleep, Health and Society Research programme.

“It will increase our understanding of the effect of sleep on different aspects of cognition. This may have implications for public health and will ultimately enrich our teaching programme.”

The WMS website explains the partnership aims “to provide a strong evidence base to determine if there is a causal association between sleep disorders and future cognitive decline, with potential public health impact”.

Dr Miller explained that this will be done through secondary analysis of a dataset from the English Longditudinal Study of Ageing (ESLA), based at University College London.

According to the WMS website, the study group will be comprised of approximately 10,000 men and women over the age of 50 listed in the ESLA who report sleep disturbances.

This is one of 20 such projects in the UK receiving up to £200,000 of funding as part of a £10.8m ESRC initiative.

The Warwick-Boston partnership, of which the study will be a part, was established in 2008, with projects involving all four Warwick faculties. The partnership was important in securing funding for the sleep project.

Warwick International and Faculty of Science press officer Anna Blackaby explained: “Warwick is a globally connected university and we feel that the best way to solve global problems is to work in collaboration with other universities, so that helps in winning this kind of award.”

She added: “A small project grant from the Boston-Warwick initiative allowed us to establish links with potential collaborators in Boston with expertise in neuroscience.

“This enabled us to conduct some preliminary analysis of this data set, which was included as part of the application. These aspects would have strengthened our application.”

Dr Miller added that the total funding for the project is split between bodies either side of the Atlantic.

“Half the funding for ELSA is provided by UK government departments. The other half of the funding for the study is provided by the National Institute on Aging, in the USA,” she said.

On how this grant could benefit students at Warwick, Ms Blackaby said that the findings from the research “will ultimately be used in our research-rich teaching programme”.

She added: “Warwick Medical School is the only UK university which provides dedicated teaching on sleep medicine to medical students.

“Furthermore, both Michelle and Franco actively encourage their students to apply for university bursaries to pursue research projects with them.”

More generally, Ms Blackaby argued that the Warwick-Boston collaboration benefits Warwick students as a whole by “allow[ing] two leading international institutions to work together on globally important research”.

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