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Winner of the 2005 RNS Young Investigator Award

Earlier this year, the Assembly on Respiratory Neurobiology and Sleep of the American Thoracic Society announced the creation of a Young Investigator Award. The RNS Young Investigator Award is intended to recognize the career accomplishments to date and future promise of a new investigator working in the broad area of respiratory neurobiology and sleep, which includes control of breathing, sleep mechanisms and sleep-disordered breathing. This may include work at the basic, clinical, epidemiological or other levels.

This award is intended to recognize a young investigator who is beyond formal training but not yet fully established. The award is to further the development of scientists who have completed training within the last seven years as of the award application date. It is not intended for either predoctoral or postdoctoral students or for well-established investigators. It is also not intended as recognition for a single project, but for overall accomplishments and future potential. Nominees should have more than one first authored paper that is considered to advance the science of respiratory neurobiology or sleep.

The winner of the first Young Investigator Award is Atul Malhotra, MD. Dr. Malhotra is a graduate of the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada and completed his internship training at St. Thomas Medical Center, Akron, OH and internal medicine residency at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. He completed fellowships in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham & Women's Hospital, both in Boston, MA. Since July 2003, he has been an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard University, with an appointment as an Associate in Medicine at Brigham & Women's Hospital.

The broad goal of Dr. Malhotra's research is to study the biomechanics and neurophysiology of the upper airway in humans. In particular, he is involved in a number of research projects which address the study of the anatomy and physiology of the upper airway and how these variables are influenced by aging, gender, and obesity. He has participated in numerous studies that have sought to determine the mechanisms governing pharyngeal patency during wakefulness, as well as to define the influence of sleep on these neuromuscular reflexes, including studies that have defined the influences of mechanoreceptive and chemoreceptive stimuli on pharyngeal muscle dilator activation. Dr. Malhotra is presently developing a multivariate predictive model to predict apnea propensity on the basis of these measurements. By carefully studying a large number of individuals with and without apnea, the project aims to define the underlying mechanisms which predispose a given individual to the development of OSA. He is also involved in collaborative research developing animal and computational models to further define the role of specific variables and their influence on pathogenesis of obstructive sleep apnea. Most recently, Dr. Malhotra is beginning research regarding the cardiovascular complications of sleep apnea. Dr. Malhotra is presently the principal investigator of a NHLBI RO1, and a National Institutes of Aging Beeson award, a co-investigator on an additional RO1, and a member of the Harvard Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) related to Sleep Neurobiology and Sleep Apnea. As a result of these efforts, Dr. Malhotra has authored or co-authored over 40 peer-reviewed papers.

Dr. Malhotra has become active in the business of the RNS assembly, having served as a member of the Program Planning Committee from 2001-2004. In 2004, he was elected Chair-elect of the committee, and will service as Chair this coming year.