Michael A. Grandner, PhD, MTR, director of the University of Arizona (UA) Sleep and Health Research Program, has been awarded a $3.6 million grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to study sleep and health along the US-Mexico border.

Grandner, also an assistant professor in the UA Department of Psychiatry, is principal investigator of the Nogales Cardiometabolic Health and Sleep Study, or NoCHeS, which seeks to learn more about sleep health and sleep disorders in the border region, how sleep issues are related to social, behavioral and environmental factors, and their potential role in regard to risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Grandner, who also holds faculty appointments with the UA Sarver Heart Center and the UA departments of medicine, psychology, and nutritional sciences, will partner with “promotoras” from the Mariposa Community Health Center in Nogales, Ariz, to study sleep health, cardiometabolic disease risk and psychosocial stress among 1,100 adults living along the US-Mexico border.

“The University of Arizona’s mandate is to serve Arizona, and in the health sciences this includes addressing health disparities and improving health along our border,” says UA president Robert C. Robbins, MD, in a release. “The relationship between sleep and cardiovascular disease risk factors is an important area of research, especially with so many people across the world affected by heart disease. I look forward to learning what Dr Grandner and this interdisciplinary team is able to discover.”

Other UA collaborators on this project include Sairam Parthasarathy, MD, professor of medicine and director of the UA Health Sciences Center for Sleep and Circadian Science; Patricia Haynes, PhD, associate professor of health promotion sciences at the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health; John Ruiz, PhD, associate professor of psychology and director of the Social Risk and Resilience Factors Lab; and Maia Ingram, MPH, co-director of the Arizona Prevention Research Center and program director of Community-based Evaluation Projects.

Other collaborators on this research are Orfeu Buxton, PhD, of Penn State University and Sanjay Patel, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh.

“Sleep is an important part of overall health,” Grandner says. “Studying how issues such as acculturation, stress, socioeconomics and other factors impact sleep disturbances in this community, and how these then in turn become risk factors for cardiometabolic disease, will advance our understanding of border health disparities and help us develop better targeted interventions to help this community.”

Common sleep problems such as insufficient sleep, insomnia, and sleep apnea have been linked with cardiometabolic risk factors such as obesity, hypertension, inflammation and diabetes, Grandner says.

“The degree to which sleep disturbances may play a role in health disparities for Mexican Americans, and the influence of social-environmental factors, is unknown. This study will move us closer to being able to make a real impact in the community,” Grandner says.