Dr. Charles Atwood’s interests include:

Sleep apnea management with a focus on novel ways to diagnose and provide long-term care for sleep apnea patients

In particular, in the role of home sleep apnea testing as a way of diagnosing sleep apnea. Working closely with with Dr. Pat Strollo, he studies home sleep apnea testing and other aspects of sleep apnea diagnosis and therapy.  He has also worked with the pacemaker industry (Guidant/Boston Scientific) on studies examining various aspects of pacemaker technology as a possible diagnostic or treatment device in sleep apnea. Dr. Atwood is currently collaborating with Dr. John Hotchkiss and others in the Department of Critical Care Medicine on studies looking at new methods of identifying physiological patterns in sleep apnea  that may allow for better clinical phenotyping of sleep apnea patients. One patent on this work is pending.

Dr. Atwood is interested in why there is such a variability of presentation of sleepiness in OSA patients. This figure from the UPMC sleep laboratory demonstrates that among half the patients with severe sleep apnea (to the right of the purple line at AHI of 30), only about 50% demonstrate self reported sleepiness. Dr. Pat Strollo and Dr. Atwood are trying to unravel the causes of this.

This image from a home sleep apnea test of a patient with sleep apnea shows fluctuations in airflow and oxygen saturation. Dr. Atwood is part of a team that is performing the first RCT of home sleep apnea testing focusing on clinical outcomes. This is funded by VA HSR&D.

COPD, focusing on longterm oxygen therapy and clinical trials in COPD

Dr. Atwood collaborates with the Emphysema Research Center on clinical trials in this area. Through the ERC, he is part of the NIH’s COPD clinical research network.


Relation between swallowing and breathing

Working with Dr. Roxann Gross of the UPMC Eye and Ear Institute, Dr. Atwood studies various aspects of the regulation of swallowing and breathing. This work has led to a better understanding of some basic physiological mechanisms with possible practical relevance that may lead to better therapy for dysphagia


Lung nodule management

Dr. Atwood started a program at the VAPHS for the rapid evaluation of lung nodules referred to the pulmonary division. He is interested in expanding this to a more academically focused effort examining patient preferences, choices and health economics of different management strategies in this area.



Dr. Atwood started the ACGME accredited sleep medicine fellowship at UPMC in 2006 and serves as its director. He enjoys working with other faculty, residents and fellows in pulmonary, psychiatry, pediatrics and neurology to further the mission of sleep medicine at UPMC.

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