From Our Chief Medical Officer

Sometimes, understanding a new disease is like peeling back layers of an onion. Each layer of knowledge reveals more. More questions, more intricate connections among the body’s systems and other diseases, and, ultimately, more knowledge as researchers strive to make sense of the layered details. Our experience with sleep disorders seems to be evolving that way.

Everyone knows the disappointing feeling of waking up and not feeling refreshed. And many of us have snored the night away—causing bad sleep for the snorer and others around us! It’s difficult to have a productive day when you’re sleep-deprived. Some see it as a national epidemic. But why is the American Lung Association concerned about sleep disorders? Many sleep disorders are breathing disorders!

Sleep disorders certainly are nothing new to mankind, but our understanding of them scientifically is only about 25 years old. There is much to discover, to peel away, as researchers and physicians work to understand all that sleep disorders are affecting—and how the body’s own physiology and neurology lead to sleep disorders.

In this issue of Promise of Research we take a broad look at sleeping disorders and what we are learning in this young, emerging area of pulmonology. We meet a physician-researcher whose work is on the cutting edge of a new treatment for sleep and breathing disorders in COPD patients, and a patient who suffered with sleep apnea for years before seeking treatment that has transformed his quality of life. Their two stories personify the promise medical research has for dramatically improving lives. It is why the American Lung Association remains committed to medical research—the promise of effective treatment and cures for lung disease.

Norman H. Edelman, MD
Chief Medical Officer