The research of Pablo R. Castillo, M.D., pioneers the field of invasive neuromodulation of sleep in humans. Neuromodulation is the stimulation of a specific part of the body by affecting its nerve activity.
Dr. Castillo's research suggests that a part of the brain called the globus pallidus external segment (GPe) is important for the control of sleep in humans.
Dr. Castillo developed a model in which the GPe integrates sleep and motor function. He collaborates with a team of international researchers who study the epidemiology of sleep disorders in a defined underserved Native population. This project is called the Atahualpa Project.
The study is a door-to-door survey of sleep, cardiovascular health and stroke in rural coastal Ecuador. Multiple assessments are ongoing, with protocol modifications evolving in view of the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
- Sleep neuromodulation using GPe deep brain stimulation. This is a new treatment for sleep disorders especially in patients with Parkinson's disease and insomnia.
- Brain morphological changes that happen with sleep disorders. Dr. Castillo is using neuroimaging to check brain perivascular spaces in sleep disorders as an alternative to observing irregular elimination of nervous system substances and cerebral small vessel disease.
Significance to patient care
Sleep disorders impose major burdens on public health. Dr. Castillo's goal is to use translational research in clinical practice. Dr. Castillo and his colleagues focus on discovering specific brain areas that can be neuromodulated to improve sleep quality in patients with severe insomnia.
- Member, Education Committee, American Academy of Neurology, 2022-present.
- Fellow, Academy of Educational Excellence, Mayo Clinic, 2020-present.
- Associate editor, Journal of the American Heart Association, 2019-present.
- Honorary professor, Universidad de Specialities Espiritu Santo, Ecuador, 2017-present.
- Program director, Sleep Medicine Fellowship (Florida), Mayo Clinic, 2016-present.
- Educator of the Year, University of Minnesota Medical School, 2022, 2008.
- Community Service Award, Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, 2021.