Medical device company ResMed Inc. donated $5 million to the UCSD School of Medicine on Oct. 29. The gift, presented in honor of Peter C. Farrell, Ph.D., DSc., founder of ResMed and chairman of the board, will go toward furthering sleep-medicine research and developing new therapies for sleep apnea.
ResMed Inc. is a global company that specializes in the development of medical devices and treatments that target chronic respiratory diseases. The company’s $5 million gift will establish both the Peter C. Farrell Sleep Center of Excellence and Peter C. Farrell Presidential Chair in Pulmonary Medicine.
Atul Malhotra, director of the Sleep Medicine Center at UCSD Health and division chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine, described to the UCSD Guardian how the $5 million will be allocated to program development.
“There are two components to the $5 million dollar gift: $1.5 million goes toward endowed chairs,” Malhotra said. “The Office of the President of University of California matched it with $500,000, so it’s a total of $2 million toward an endowed chair, which we’ll use to support current faculty or recruit new faculty with expertise in sleep medicine. The other $3.5 million we’re going to use to develop new programs; we’re still discussing what those might involve.”
The endowed chairs are presented to those individuals who have demonstrated exceptional scholarship through groundbreaking accomplishments in their field, providing funding for chairholders’ academic endeavors and contributing to graduate and post-doctoral fellowships. Funding distributed to the endowed chair will also help to recruit a world expert in sleep medicine.
The $3.5 million allocated to new programs will support studies associated with sleep apnea, a frequently undiagnosed condition affecting 30 million people in the United States. Increased blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and depression have all been linked to sleep apnea.
Malhotra explained to the Guardian that new programs may focus on chronic diseases connected to sleep apnea.
“We’ve got some interest in perioperative medicine and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and how they are affected by sleep apnea,” Malhotra said. “We have some global health initiatives here; we’re trying to develop awareness and do some advocacy in developing countries.”
The Peter C. Farrell Sleep Center of Excellence will investigate the causes and treatments of sleep disorders, an area of research that has been enhanced by recent technological advances in sleep monitoring.
Malhotra explains that the sleep center will pursue studies and clinical trials that target specific causes and long-term effects of sleep apnea.
“We do some clinical trials and observational studies and we do some more detailed mechanistic research regarding why some people get sleep apnea and others do not,” Malhotra said. “We’re trying to develop new therapies for sleep apnea and understand why sleep apnea patients get cardiovascular disease and other complications.”
The support from private company ResMed will also help establish the UCSD School of Medicine as a leading center for treatment of sleep apnea.
“A large gift from a donor sends a good message that the expertise we’ve developed is being recognized by people who choose what we we have to offer,” Malhotra said. “It also provides us the opportunity to take things to the next level. I’m reasonably confident that this will help us become a leading center in sleep medicine in the coming years.”
This gift will promote advances in sleep disorder treatments both locally and globally, improving treatment methods of San Diego patients and contributing to a comprehensive understanding of such diseases.