I traveled to Palo Alto this weekend to join with a very large group of people to celebrate the 80th birthday of William C. Dement, a long-time professor of medicine at Stanford University and the recognized father of sleep medicine.
I can think of no person, physician or layman, who has done more to put the subject of sleep on the public agenda. His efforts have been tireless educating the policy makers that "Drowsiness is Red Alert".
In additional to all of his scientific research (the discovery of REM - Rapid Eye Movement - Sleep),establishing the first sleep disorder clinic in United States (on the campus of Stanford), his establishment of the American Sleep Disorders Association (which went on to become the American Academy of Sleep Medicine)...perhaps the most important contribution is his mentorship of so many people who have gone on to do significant work in the field of sleep medicine.
I was pleased to be a part of the celebration and experience the great outpouring of love for a man who has done so much to bring into focus a segment of everyone's life (fully 1/3) that is so little understood - sleep.
Edward, it's a pleasure to hear about your journey to Palo Alto a couple years back (hard to believe Dr. Dement is already 80!) and your ongoing writing on sleep apnea (the blog looks great!). I'm a teaching assistant for Dr. Dement, and I thought I'd let you know of a new Sleep and Dreams website we've made recently to further spread awareness of sleep knowledge.