ASMF Award

Martica Hall, PhD Selected for Strategic Research
Award by American Sleep Medicine Foundation


The American Sleep Medicine Foundation (ASMF) has presented Martica Hall, PhD with their Strategic Research Award.  This highly competitive program selects only three projects each year to support and is designed to support research aimed at improving quality of health care delivery in the field of sleep medicine. 

Through her project, Quantifying the Diagnostic and Therapeutic Utility of Wrist Actigraphy in Insomnia, Dr. Hall will use pattern recognition tools to discover novel features of the actigraphy time series that will aid in the diagnosis and management of insomnia.  Actigraphy, which uses watch-sized accelerometers worn on the wrist to measure rest-activity patterns over days and weeks, is widely used in research studies to quantify sleep timing, duration, and fragmentation.  Fewer studies have evaluated its utility to the practice of sleep medicine.  Dr. Hall and her colleagues, Drs. Daniel Buysse and Patrick Strollo, will capitalize on what actigraphy does best?indeed what it does uniquely?compared to other sleep measurement tools, providing detailed longitudinal time series data on rest-activity (or sleep-wake) patterns. 

Using a rich cache of archival data and state-of-science Machine Learning tools to identify novel features of the actigraphy time series, Dr. Hall and her colleagues will address three important clinical questions:  

  • First, can we use features of the actigraphy time series to reliably discriminate patients with insomnia from good sleepers? 
  • Second, do features of the actigraphy time series reliably predict treatment response? 
  • Third, can features of the actigraphy time series be used to identify novel sleep-wake phenotypes that are more reliable and potentially more strongly related to outcomes than are existing clinical diagnoses?  This study fundamentally re-thinks how we use actigraphy data for the diagnosis and management of insomnia and is, thus, poised to have a significant impact on clinical sleep medicine. 

Dr. Hall, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, is the Co-Director of the Neuroscience Clinical & Translational Research Center and Associate Director of the Sleep and Chronobiology Center Data Management & Statistics Core at the University of Pittsburgh. She is internationally recognized as an expert in sleep medicine, publishing over 100 peer-reviewed articles in high-impact journals including Sleep, Psychosomatic Medicine and Biological Psychiatry.  She has served as the Principal or Co-Principal investigator for seven federally funded grants and as a co-investigator for numerous other projects supported by federal agencies or private foundations.  Dr. Hall has also earned a reputation as a highly engaged mentor and teacher, sharing her expertise with learners at all levels through coursework, workshops and invited presentations at conferences and meetings sponsored by a host of medical and professional societies.  A lifelong learner herself, Dr. Hall is deeply appreciative of the ?Machine Learning 101? support kindly provided by Drs. Howard Aizenstein, Robert Krafty and Stefano Corralupi as she and her colleagues prepared this proposal.