Meet the Team
George T. Nierenberg – Director / Producer
“My family was screaming! I’d fallen asleep while driving … again! For years, I had been misdiagnosed. I didn’t know what was making me tired all the time, affecting my work, my marriage … everything. It took me 25 years to find a cure. Why?“
– George T. Nierenberg, Director/Producer, Out of Breath
GEORGE T. NIERENBERG is an acclaimed Director/Producer whose career has spanned the worlds of independent features, network, and cable television. His award-winning film, Say Amen, Somebody (originally released theatrically by United Artist Classics) was celebrated at major film festivals including Telluride, New York, Toronto, London, and Cannes. It was named “One of the Ten Best Films of The Year” by People Magazine, Siskel and Ebert and Rolling Stone, among others. His Emmy-winning film No Maps on My Taps received a theatrical release before airing on PBS, cable and international television. Mr. Nierenberg’s Emmy nominated That Rhythm, Those Blues opened at the Telluride Film before airing on The American Experience. He has produced, directed and developed projects for CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, AMC, Bravo, Nickelodeon, Sony BMG and National Geographic Explorer. Nierenberg film’s Say Amen, Somebody and No Maps on My Taps are currently being re-released theatrically by Milestone Films.
Dr. John E. Remmers is a world-renowned expert in the field of snoring and sleep apnea, being the first researcher to elucidate the pathogenesis of sleep apnea and to demonstrate that sleep apnea is caused by an anatomical narrowing of the pharynx. As a recognized pioneer and innovator in sleep medicine, Dr. Remmers has invented products ranging from portable diagnostic sleep monitors to auto-titrating CPAP devices, including proactive algorithms to automatically adjust CPAP pressure based on patient need.
Dr. Remmers served two terms as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Applied Physiology and has presented honorary research lectures to the American Thoracic Society, the American Physiological Society and American College of Chest Physicians. His research interests relate to the neurobiology of respiratory rhythmogenesis, chemoreception, and the pathophysiology of the control of breathing. Dr. Remmers has published over one hundred peer reviewed publications in the area of respiratory physiology.
Dr. Remmers is a pulmonologist and clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Calgary. Dr. Remmers also has an active sleep practice in the sleep lab at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, which he founded in 1984, and is the Chief Medical Officer of Zephyr Sleep Technologies.
Colin Sullivan is an Australian physician, professor, and inventor known for his invention of the nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) circuit, made of continuous flow machine and vented nasal mask, in June 1980.
Sullivan’s development of the nasal CPAP was a product of his long-term interest in the upper respiratory airway and its role in SIDS (aka crib death or cot death). Prior to the invention of the nasal CPAP machine sleep apnea was often treated with radical measures such as tracheotomy.
Dr. Charles Czeisler is chief of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders in the Medicine and Neurology Departments at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine and director of Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine. He has over 40 years of experience on circadian disorders and the impacts of sleep deficiency on health, wellness, and the economy. Czeisler previously led NASA’s National Space Biomedical Research Institute’s sleep and chronobiology team. He was awarded an honorary fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians, is a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, and was elected an inaugural fellow of the American Physiological Society.
Mark Rosekind was appointed by President Obama to be the 15th Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Serving from 2014 to 2017, he led the development and issuance of the first-ever Federal Automated Vehicles Policy, the founding of the Road to Zero coalition, and aggressive oversight of safety in the automobile industry, including the nation’s largest product safety recall in U.S history. Previously, Rosekind served as the 40th member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Rosekind also founded Alertness Solutions, a scientific consulting firm that specialized in fatigue management. He also directed the Fatigue Countermeasures Program at NASA’s Ames Research Center and served as chief of the Aviation Operations Branch in the Flight Management and Human Factors Division. Rosekind earned his B.A. with honors from Stanford University, his M.S., M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Yale University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Brown University Medical School. Rosekind presently leads Zoox’s efforts to safely develop, test, and deploy autonomous vehicles.
Dr. David Rapoport, MD is director of research in integrative sleep medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He holds multiple US and European patents for improvements on nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) as a treatment for sleep apnea. Rapoport is founder and president of the Foundation for Research in Sleep Disorders, a nonprofit that has contributed to the education of future sleep scientists and has funded research leading to development of new techniques in sleep medicine. He is on the Medical Advisory Board of the American Sleep Apnea Association and was president and a board member of the American Lung Association of the City of New York.
Dr. Girardin Jean-Louis is a Professor of Population Health and Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health and is the Director of the NHLBI-funded Program to Increase Diversity in Behavioral Medicine and Sleep Disorders Research (PRIDE) Summer Institute. Currently serving on the National Advisory Council for the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, Jean-Louis has pioneered the field of sleep medicine as it particularly applies to low-income and minority communities. He has been involved in numerous, pivotal NIH-funded studies that have produced over 375 publications, with his research appearing in over 180 scientific conference proceedings and book chapters as well as 195 peer reviewed scientific journals. He also received an NIA Career Leadership Award to develop a Center on Translational Sleep and Circadian Sciences. His past experiences also include serving for three years on the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)’s Sleep Disorders Research Advisory Board, and for four years as a member of the Cancer, Heart, and Sleep Epidemiology (CHSB) study section, and the NHLBI Special Emphasis Panel/Scientific Review Group. His work has laid the foundation for increasing health equity within vulnerable communities by addressing patient-, provider-, and system-level barriers that hinder the adoption of healthful practices.
Dr. Azizi Seixas is a Professor at the NYU School of Medicine and in the Department of Population Health and the Center for Healthful Behavior Change. His most recent works entails identifying barriers which hinder the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders among racial and ethnic minorities. His research also evaluates the efficacy of behavioral models which aim at improving adherence to sleep as well CVD recommended therapies. In 2020, Dr. Seixas was chosen by Cell Press as one of a hundred most inspiring Black scientists in America and was recently awarded a NHLBI award to investigate whether insufficient sleep and/or obesity- which are two to three times more prevalent among blacks compared to whites- might explain a significant proportion of CVD risk disparity between blacks and whites, through secondary data analysis of the Sleep Heart Health Study, a NHLBI-funded epidemiological study. Besides his work focussing on health insights, Seixas also uses artificial intelligence techniques to optimize behavioral change and help answer other complex health questions.
Dr. Gilles Lavigne, DMD and MSc (University of Montreal), Ph. D. (University of Toronto). Gilles Lavigne is a dentist from the University of Montreal. After a few years in practice he embarked on a career in pain, bruxism and sleep research. It was completed with oral medicine training at Georgetown University (Washington, USA) and a NIH pain neuropharmacology research internship (Bethesda, USA). He also holds a PhD in trigeminal neurophysiology (University of Toronto). In 2009, he received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Medicine-Dentistry at the University of Zurich. Currently, he is i) a professor at the Faculty of Dentistry and Medicine at the Université de Montréal, ii) a Canada Research Chair in Pain, Sleep and Traumatology at the Hôpital du Sacré Cœur from Montreal, iii) Orofacial Pain and Sleep Disorders Consultant at the CHUM Stomatology Clinic and a private ENT Clinic and iv) Acting Director of Research at the CIUSSS North Island of Montreal
Naresh M. Punjabi, M.D., Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The Naresh Punjabi Lab primarily studies sleep apnea, epidemiology, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Their current research focuses on the epidemiology of sleep apnea with a particular emphasis on associated sequelae, including insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. They have been part of the multi-center Sleep Heart Health Study, an epidemiological study on the longitudinal effects of sleep apnea on hypertension, cardiovascular disease and mortality. Their lab is examining the independent effects of intermittent hypoxia on various pathways to help elucidate the links between sleep apnea, insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction.
Steve Carstensen, DDS is well-known as an expert in Dental Sleep Medicine and has been treating sleep apnea and snoring since 1998. He is co-founder of Premier Sleep in Bellevue, WA, where he focuses exclusively on airway therapy. He’s completed UCLA’s Mini-Residency in Sleep and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine and is invited for lectures to Dental organizations and universities in the US and internationally. He has held several leadership positions at the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) and was General Chair of the 2010 American Dental Association (ADA) Annual Session. He is the Consultant to the ADA for Sleep Related Breathing Disorders. From its founding in 2014 to 2019, he was Editor-in-Chief of Dental Sleep Practice Magazine. With a co-author, he wrote The Clinician’s Handbook for Dental Sleep Medicine, published in 2019.
Dr. Barbara Phillips is a Professor of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, where she has spent her entire professional career. She established and directs the University of Kentucky Sleep Center. Dr. Phillips serves as President-Designate and Regent at Large of the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), and will be President of this organization 2015-2016. She is a past-chairman of the National Sleep Foundation and the American Board of Sleep Medicine. She has served on the boards of the American Lung Association, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the Medical Advisory Board of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the Advisory Board to the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research. She has received a Sleep Academic Award from the National Institutes of Health and an Excellence in Education Award from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
LTC Phillip Neal, DMD, is a clinician, educator, and leader with 30 years of federal service. He serves as the lead action officer on strategic readiness initiatives to enhance dental sleep medicine support. Currently he is serving on a DOD/VA workgroup writing a clinical practice guideline standardize care for service members and veterans. He holds undergraduate degrees from Panama Canal College and Augusta University and earned his Dental Medicine Doctorate via the Health Professions Scholarship from the Medical College of Georgia. His passions include his family, leader development, dental sleep medicine, and improving the health and readiness of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Veterans. LTC Neal is a board-certified Comprehensive Dentist, delegate to the AGD, and member of the ADA, AUSA, and Order of Military Medical Merit.
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