Sleep medicine professors and researchers Chandra Jackson, PhD, MS, and Girardin Jean-Louis, PhD, are the recipients of the 2022 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Award from the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC, a joint initiative of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the Sleep Research Society (SRS).
The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to sleep medicine or sleep and circadian science through their work to increase the diversity, equity, and inclusion of sleep medicine providers, or to develop educational programs, research, or clinical work aimed at reducing disparities. The award presentation occurred June 6, during the plenary session of SLEEP 2022.
“The APSS is honored to recognize Chandra Jackson and Girardin Jean-Louis for their tireless work to increase the diversity of sleep medicine clinicians and sleep and circadian scientists,” says APSS president Kannan Ramar, MBBS, MD, in a release. “Their groundbreaking research is helping to identify and address the multiple risk factors impacting the sleep health of marginalized communities.”
Jackson is an Earl Stadtman Investigator who leads the Social and Environmental Determinants of Health Equity Research Group in the epidemiology branch of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences with a joint appointment to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. She investigates physical and social environmental factors that impact disparities in sleep health and subsequent risk of heart disease. Jackson’s research has identified novel risk factors for sleep insufficiency in underserved groups and novel associations between sleep duration, sleep efficiency or sleep apnea with housing characteristics, early life adversity, discrimination stress, pesticide exposure, and swine farm effluents, providing the foundation for research and policy aimed at reducing those risk factors.
Jackson actively works with the SRS, AASM, and other medical societies to promote workforce diversity and ensure that published guidelines address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Her contributions to the SRS include participation as a member of the board of directors and the SRS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. At national conferences, Jackson has led courses to enhance the understanding of workforce diversity and sleep health disparities. She has mentored 17 early-stage investigators, 11 of whom are underrepresented minorities.
Jean-Louis is a professor of psychiatry and neurology in the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, and he is the director of both the Center on Translational Sleep and Circadian Sciences and the PRIDE Institute on Behavioral Medicine and Sleep Disorders Research. His research focuses on the psychosocial and environmental determinants of health that prevent access to adequate care in diverse communities. He has published seminal studies characterizing the sleep health of Blacks in America and has described the consequences of insufficient sleep health in vulnerable populations, such as cardiovascular health, cognition, and dementia risk. Jean-Louis’ current research addresses the mechanisms of sleep deficiency and its associations with biomarkers of cardiovascular disease, inflammation, and brain injury, highlighting the contribution of structural racism and genetic ancestry.
Jean-Louis also has a well-established record of leading training and mentoring programs to foster the careers of underrepresented minority scientists. As director of the Program to Increase Diversity in Behavioral Medicine and Sleep Disorders Research (PRIDE) Summer Institute at New York University, Jean-Louis has trained and mentored many junior-level faculty members and other scientists from underrepresented groups to launch careers in behavioral medicine and sleep disorders research. In 2020, Jean-Louis was selected as one of The Community of Scholars’ most inspiring Black scientists in America.