Featured Member - Justin Thomas PhD
Dr.Thomas is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Chair of the SBSM Practice Committee, and Co-Chair of the 2018 and 2019 SBSM Fall Courses to be held in Birmingham, AL. Dr Thomas has been in the field of Sleep Medicine for 20 years and is the Director of the newly-accredited UAB BSM Clinic & Training Program integrated in the UAB Sleep/Wake Disorders Center. His clinical interests focus on BSM, particularly with respect to behavioral treatments of circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Dr Thomas' research interests of late have focused on circadian rhythms and diurnal blood pressure variation (i.e., nocturnal hypertension and non-dipping blood pressure).
HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO SPECIALIZE IN BEHAVIORAL SLEEP MEDICINE?
My career in BSM began as a phone call to Kenny Lichstein. I was a sleep technologist working nights and taking classes after work towards a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and wanted to develop an honors thesis project in the field of sleep medicine. I reached out to Kenny to introduce myself and ask if he would be interested in serving as my mentor on my honors thesis. He stated something to the effect that he “has a hard time turning down an opportunity to collaborate” and the rest is history. I remain very grateful to Kenny for the influence he has had on my career.
WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP THAT YOU PLAN ON TAKING EITHER IN YOUR RESEARCH PROGRAM OR CLINICAL PRACTICE?
Now that my BSM Clinic & Training Program is accredited, I look forward to training the next generation of BSM clinicians and researchers, particularly in areas outside of CBT-I. I am also busily developing several different lines of research at the intersection of sleep, circadian rhythms, and cardiovascular outcomes, particularly in the context of racial disparities. For example, I am submitting a grant in two weeks to look at circadian mechanisms underlying non-dipping blood pressure in Blacks.
WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE FIELD IN 10 YEARS?
In line with the recent ACP position paper on CBT-I, I would like to see BSM recognized as the “go to” for the assessment and treatment of a variety of sleep disorders. I feel that we, as an organization, have so much to provide outside of CBT-I, including sleep assessment, circadian medicine, etc. and would like to see the field expand where BSM is not used synonymously with CBT-I.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE THINGS TO DO AWAY FROM THE OFFICE?
I love spending time with family and friends. I come from a large family and have 3 young children ages 7, 5, and 2. I grew up on the west coast of Florida south of Tampa and enjoy going back home to kayak, fish, and spend time on the beach.