Dr. Jessica GillDr. Jessica Gill, NIH Lasker Clinical Research Scholar and Chief of NINR’s Brain Injury Unit, has received a funding award to study sleep disturbance among service members who have suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The U.S. Department of Defense-funded study will examine the impact of growth-hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) on sleep promotion and endocrine regulation.

“Up to one-third of service members who sustain a TBI are diagnosed with a sleep disorder, with insomnia being one of the most common disorders.” said Dr. Gill, who will recruit participants from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and complete the study at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD. “Sleep disorders are associated with neurocognitive deficits, functional impairments and may compromise the ability of those with TBI to recover. That’s why it is critical to look closely at the underlying mechanisms and develop more effective treatments.”

With past research suggesting that neuroendocrine dysfunction is an important mechanism linking TBI and disordered sleep, Dr. Gill’s study will look at the administration of growth hormone and determine whether a one-time stimulus can improve sleep quality. The study also aims to investigate whether GHRH will regulate neuroendocrine proteins and function in the TBI and insomnia group, resulting in sleep patterns similar to the healthy controls.

“Even when insomnia is diagnosed following TBI, we are not able to effectively treat it,” said Dr. Gill. “We expect this study to initiate a program of research that will ultimately develop ways to effectively treat and prevent insomnia following TBI.”