October 23, 2008
Vol. 28 No. 3

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    Expert on sleep disorders to serve as Pediatrics chair

    By John Easton
    Medical Center Communications

    David Gozal

    David Gozal has been appointed Professor and Chairman of Pediatrics at the University Medical Center, effective Feb. 1, 2009.

    An expert on the developmental neurobiology of respiratory control, sleep-disordered breathing and treatment of pediatric sleep disorders, Gozal, 53, comes to the University from the University of Louisville, where, since 1999, he served as Vice-Chair for Research and Director of the Kosair Children’s Hospital Research Institute. He was director of the country’s first division of pediatric sleep medicine and was also chief of the sleep medicine fellowship program at Louisville, both of which are recognized as “Comprehensive Academic Sleep Programs of Distinction” by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

    “David Gozal has been a pioneer in the study of childhood sleep problems and the relationship between sleep disorders and neurobehavioral or cardiovascular diseases,” said James Madara, CEO of the Medical Center, Dean of Biological Sciences and Vice President for Medical Affairs. “He also built substantial training and clinical programs in these areas, with an impressive track record for innovative medical education and first-rate patient care.”

    “I’m thrilled about the opportunity,” Gozal said. “The University of Chicago has a tradition of excellence at all levels that meshes well with my professional philosophy. Furthermore, the Department of Pediatrics has a long history of past accomplishments and is very well positioned to become an international leader in pediatric health care.

    “For me, it’s like coming home. This is where modern sleep research began. For more than 50 years, researchers at the University have demonstrated the complexity and the crucial importance of sleep and the consequences of sleep deprivation. It’s is the perfect place for my lifelong interest in pediatric sleep research and for impressing on physicians and on the community at large just how important sleep is.”

    Gozal’s research focuses on bench-to-bedside approaches to pediatric sleep disorders, such as childhood obstructive sleep apnea and sudden infant death syndrome. He studies the mechanisms that mediate defense responses and those that lead to complications from low oxygen levels and disrupted sleep, and the long-term health and developmental consequences of chronic sleep and breathing problems during childhood. Several NIH grants support his research.

    A founding member of the International Pediatric Sleep Association, Gozal has held prominent roles in many professional societies, including serving on the board of directors for the American Thoracic Society and on the executive committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He is deputy editor for the journal Sleep, a member of the editorial board of several scientific journals, and a reviewer for more than 30. He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and has lectured extensively over the world.

    A native of Barcelona, Spain, Gozal grew up in Portugal and received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. He completed his pediatric residency in 1988 at the Haifa Medical Center in Israel. He spent the next two years in Cameroon, West Africa, developing rural healthcare networks, for which he was designated a Knight of the Order of Merit.

    He completed his pediatric pulmonology and sleep training at the University of Southern California’s Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles in 1993, then joined the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles.

    In 1994, he moved to Tulane University as an associate professor of pediatrics and physiology, and director of the Comprehensive Sleep Medicine Center. He was appointed the Constance Kaufman Professor of Pediatric Pulmonology Research there in 1997.

    In 1999, he moved to the University of Louisville as a professor of pediatrics, pharmacology and toxicology. At Louisville, he launched the sleep program, which quickly built a reputation for distinguished sleep research, especially in pediatrics, and was home to an ACGME-accredited international sleep medicine fellowship. He also was a founder of the Kosair Children’s Hospital Research Institute, dedicated to research programs in sleep and neurobiology, diabetes research, tumor biology and outcomes research. The Institute grew to include 15 principal investigators and 10 affiliated research labs.

    Gozal’s wife, clinical sleep researcher Leila Kheirandish-Gozal, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Louisville, will join him on the faculty at Chicago.

    He will succeed Michael Schreiber, professor of pediatrics, who has served as interim chair of the department since October 2007.