UA Sleep Medicine Studies Focus of PCORI Videos, Article and National Journalist Panel Talk

Sairam Parthasarathy, MD, is featured in two videos posted to the website of the Washington, DC-based Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) related to his research on sleep medicine at the University of Arizona.

The videos also were on display this past week at PCORI’s booth during the exhibition portion of the national Health Journalism 2018 conference hosted in Phoenix by the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) and Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. 

The UA Health Sciences and Banner Health were among co-sponsors of the April 12-15 event.

“Improving Patient Experiences with CPAP Machines” [3:07]

Dr. Parthasarathy talks about his PCORI-funded research study that is using mentors to train patients with sleep apnea to use CPAP machines in hopes of improving sleep outcomes.

“Studying Efficacy of Patient-to-Patient Mentoring” [1:40]

Here, Dr. Parthasarathy says a patient gave him the idea for his PCORI-funded study to improve sleep outcomes for patients assigned a CPAP machine.


Dr. Sai Parthasarathy’s research in the PCORI-funded study, “Peer-Driven Intervention as an Alternative Model of Care Delivery and Coordination for Sleep Apnea,” also was a Featured Project in the fall 2017 edition of pcori stories, a magazine published by PCORI.

PCORI Stories magazine October 2017See the article, “For Healthier Nights and Longer Lives,” posted here:



The study focuses heavily on a peer-mentoring/care coordination approach to CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device adherence for improved patient outcomes. The magazine was presented at the PCORI Annual Meeting, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, in Arlington, Va. The meeting is where Dr. Parthasarathy was interviewed for the PCORI videos above.

Is Lack of Sleep Killing Us?

Dr. Sairam Parthasarathy adjusting CPAP device for female patientDr. Parthasarathy participated at the AHCJ conference as an invited panelist for the session, “Is Lack of Sleep Killing Us?” that took place Friday morning. He is a professor of medicine in the UA Department of Medicine, interim chief, UA Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine and director of both the UA Health Sciences Center for Sleep and Circadian Sciences and the Center for Sleep Disorders at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson.

In the past two years, Dr. Parthasarathy has been the recipient of three awards as a principal investigator. This includes:

  • NIH National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute—$762,726 R56 Award (Fall 2017)—to study “Predictive Analytics and Peer-Driven Intervention for Guideline-based Care for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA),” which affects 12 percent of the U.S. population and can lead to heart attacks. OSA is significantly underdiagnosed with nearly 54 percent of patients not adherent to the gold-standard continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment.
  • American Sleep Medicine Foundation—$250,000, 2-year ASMF Strategic Research Award (Spring 2017)—to evaluate telemedicine-based delivery of care for patients suffering from insomnia, sleep-apnea and other sleep disorders using the AASM SleepTM System.
  • PCORI—$250,000, 2-year Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award (Fall 2016)—to participate in SLEEP2 (Strategically Leverage Engage and Empower PCOR in Sleep Disorders) research involving the Sleep Research Network (with 300-plus researchers and 70 institutions) to get sleep researchers to incorporate patient-centeredness in their research studies, create a centralized patient-stakeholder engagement resource and develop a series of guiding documents on findings and methodologies to evaluate and promote evidence-based care.

Peer-Buddy Approach for Better Care Coordination Diagram of how a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device works

On his most recent grant regarding obstructive sleep apnea, Dr. Parthasarathy noted this is particularly a larger problem among lower income and elderly populations. “The overarching aim of our proposal is to conduct preliminary work that would allow us to institute a multi-level strategy that uses the computer-based system and experienced patients called peer-buddies to improving care for sleep apnea in lower income neighborhoods in order to promote health equity,” he said.

Co-investigators on the NHLBI/NIH grant include former UA pulmonary chief Stuart Quan, MD, now at Harvard Medical School; Stefano Guerra, MD, PhD, MPH, population science director, UAHS Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center; Mindy Fain, MD, chief, UA Division of Geriatrics, General Internal and Palliative Medicine; Elizabeth Calhoun, PhD, associate vice president, population health sciences, and executive director, Center for Population Science and Discovery, UAHS; Michael Grandner, PhD, director, Sleep and Health Research Program, UA Department of Psychiatry; and consultant Matt Bianchi, MD, director, Division of Sleep Medicine, Harvard Medical School.

Flyer for University of Arizona sleep apnea patient studyDr. Parthasarathy anticipates additional future funding on the award. Click here (or on the image at left) for the Sleep Apnea Study flyer, to learn more. [This research is supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R56HL138377. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.]

Dr. Parthasarathy joined the UA College of Medicine – Tucson faculty in 2011. Before that, he was affiliated with the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System’s Tucson VA Medical Center as chief of research, section chief for pulmonary and critical care medicine, and head of the sleep medicine lab. Prior to that, he was with the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital and Loyola University Medical Center, both in Chicago. He completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Loyola, where he also was a faculty member and director of its Center for Sleep Disorders.

In addition, he has served on multiple National Institutes of Health boards and committees related to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and National Center for Sleep Disorders Research—including chairing the Sleep Disorders Research Advisory Board (2013-14), and served on editorial boards for several respiratory, critical care and sleep medicine related national and international publications.

Under Dr. Parthasarathy’s leadership, the UA Center for Sleep Disorders opened in January 2012. In 2014, the center was accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) to perform out-of-center sleep testing and Dr. Parthasarathy’s research team was awarded $2 million by PCORI to study sleep apnea. The research team has since made a number of findings, including a link between persistent insomnia, inflammation and mortality. For Dr. Parthasarathy's most recently published papers, click here.

About the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
PCORI is a government-sponsored non-profit organization created as part of a modification to the Social Security Act by clauses in the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It is charged with investigating the relative effectiveness of various medical treatments. Medicare may consider the institute's research in determining therapies it will cover. As of November 2017, PCORI has awarded $364 million to fund 31 clinical studies and $492 million to fund 72 research projects. Learn more at

“Several UA Department of Medicine Docs to Serve on Panels at National Health Journalist Event” | Posted March 8, 2018
“Sleep Center Director Gets $250K Grant to Evaluate Telemedicine Consults for Insomnia Patients” | Posted May 8, 2017
“UA-Led Team Receives PCORI Engagement Award for Patient-Centered SLEEP2 Project” | Posted Sept. 21, 2016
“UA Research Dream Team for Treating Sleep Disorders Present Findings at SLEEP 2016” | Posted June 27, 2016
“UA Approved for Funding Award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute” | Posted Jan. 7, 2014

Release Date: 
04/16/2018 - 1:45pm