FEATURED MEMBER - NATASHA WILLIAMS, EdD, MPH, MSW
Dr. Williams is a behavioral research scientist and an assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine. Trained in public health and health disparities research, Dr. Williams’s research primarily focuses on increasing awareness about the importance of sleep health, increasing access to treatment, and investigating the determinants of sleep disturbance among minority populations. Currently, she is the principal investigator of a study (K23) that is exploring the barriers and facilitators of adherence to treatment among African Americans and white patients duly diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia. She has been interviewed for Sleep Magazine Review, the Journal for Sleep Specialist and her research has appeared in over 50 scientific journals and conference proceedings including SLEEP, Sleep Health, Sleep Medicine, and Clinical Sleep Medicine.
HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO SPECIALIZE IN BEHAVIORAL SLEEP MEDICINE?
I got involved into the field of sleep because my mentor, Girardin Jean-Louis, asked me to facilitate a few focus groups for the MetSO behavioral sleep trial. The trial was designed to improve adherence to CPAP among African Americans diagnosed with sleep apnea. I had no training in sleep. Through the focus groups that I conducted, I learned a lot about sleep, sleep apnea, and what sleep meant to those patients. I recall the experiences of the men and women and they were all poor sleepers. Interestingly, the majority of the patients identified a problem (other than OSA) that contributed to their poor sleep. So I am forever grateful for that experience, for the men and women trusting me with their stories, and for my mentor, Girardin Jean-Louis, for giving me the opportunity to do the work.
WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP THAT YOU PLAN ON TAKING EITHER IN YOUR RESEARCH PROGRAM OR CLINICAL PRACTICE?
This is an exciting time for BSM and there are still many areas that haven’t been explored. So for me, I am really focusing on getting low income families and communities to recognize the consequences associated with poor sleep and helping them to become better equipped in tackling sleep issues.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITY THINGS TO DO AWAY FROM THE OFFICE?
My favorite thing to do away from the office is baking. My husband and children and I love to bake and we each have a favorite desert that we bake. My husband bakes brownies, I bake cookies and my daughter bakes pies. We are working on getting my 2-year old son to start baking too.