press release
Published: 28 February 2019

£2m award for ground breaking research into the link between sleep and cardio-metabolic diseases

By Natasha Meredith

An international consortium including key members of the University Global Partnership Network (UGPN) - the University of Surrey and University of Sao Paulo and led by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, has been awarded £2m to investigate the link between inadequate sleep and cardio-metabolic diseases.

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Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States, this unique project will help the multinational team build upon their successful work on the Baependi Heart Study which examined the cardiovascular health of 2,700 participants in rural Brazil, helping to uncover vital information about factors that impact on cardiovascular health and disease.

Investigating this further, researchers from the two UGPN institutions and Northwestern will explore if sleep is a contributory factor to cardio metabolic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and if a difference exists between males and females. Recordings of brain activity and physiological measures during sleep will be collected in 2,000 homes in the area alongside measures of the cardiovascular health of the occupants.

The UGPN, which also includes North Carolina State University and the University of Wollongong in Australia, is an international partnership of distinguished universities that aims to develop world class research tackling global challenges such as health and disease. The UGPN provided the initial funding for this collaboration. Additional funding that led to the creation of this innovative project was awarded by the Global Innovation Initiative, a bilateral UK-US scheme, and by Banco Santander; this allowed the team to add in the expertise of Dr. Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern, who is the principal investigator on the NIH grant.

“International collaborations such as these provide unique and exciting opportunities to better understand the role of sleep in health and disease not only in Brazil, the site of the study, but also globally including the United States, the United Kingdom and beyond,” Knutson said.

Malcolm von Schantz, Professor of Chronobiology at the University of Surrey, said: “Cardio- metabolic diseases are a global threat to human health.

“We now know more about the causes of cardio-metabolic illnesses but one thing we don’t know is how inadequate sleep impacts the development and progression of such devastating diseases. Sleep is an integral part of ensuring that all bodily functions and processes work and its importance in guaranteeing a healthy lifestyle should never be underestimated.”

Professor David Sampson, Vice-Provost of Research and Innovation at the University of Surrey, said: “The UGPN enables experts from four continents to work together to develop ground breaking research for the benefit of humankind. I am delighted that Professor von Schantz is collaborating with this global team to find out more about the causes of cardio-metabolic diseases.”      

Professor Vince Emery, Senior Vice President for Global Engagement at the University of Surrey, said: “International collaboration is key to solving some of the greatest threats to humanity. Through hard work we have made it possible for our academics to seamlessly join forces with their peers across the world to work together on issues of global importance.”

 

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