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NGKF boss makes half-million dollar donation to sleep research


James D. Kuhn, president of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, has made a personal donation of $500,000 to support sleep medicine research at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Calling the gift “exceptionally generous,” NYU Langone doctors who direct the research said it will fund innovative work in the field of sleep disruption and memory.

Kuhn, who is also chairman of the NYU School of Professional and Continuing Studies’ Real Estate Institute, has previously endowed a university program to support diversity in the real estate industry. The new grant to the sleep disorder center is his second contribution to fund its work. A previous donation helped fuel research into how to improve devices that help treat sleep apnea, a chronic disorder that causes people to stop breathing repeatedly during sleep. In adults, the condition can lead to hypertension, chronic heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, and worsening of asthma.

Dr. Omar Burschtin, along with the sleep center’s founder Dr. David Rapoport, conducts clinical treatment and research into the condition. The physicians also run an accredited fellowship program training two young physicians in the field each year.

“In addition to the growing number of health conditions associated with a poor night’s sleep, we know that sleep is important for memory formation,” said Dr. Burschtin. He said the research funded by Mr. Kuhn will help identify the precise physiological connections between certain stages of sleep and memory, and also delve into whether treatment of sleep disorders can enhance memory.

“This work, which is the main area of research of Andrew Varga, MD, is meaningful for a variety of reasons,” said Dr. Rapoport. “What Dr. Varga seeks to do is understand how specific stages of sleep improve memory. This is particularly important as there is a growing appreciation of the role sleep disruption plays in aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding how sleep disorders like sleep apnea, a common finding in the elderly as well as middle aged populations, interact with memory will give us clues on how to help our aging population with memory issues.”

“It has been estimated that 50 to 60 million Americans already suffer from sleep disorders each year,” noted Mr. Kuhn. “NYU Langone Medical Center is one of the foremost academic and health care institutions in the country seeking answers and solutions. It has always been my hospital of choice. All three of my children were born there and I believe that giving back is essential in life. ”

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