Ralph Lydic is professor of psychology at UT and the Robert H. Cole Endowed Professor of Neuroscience and the co-director of anesthesiology research at the UT Medical Center in Knoxville. He also holds a research joint appointment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Lydic’s research career has endeavored to advance understanding of how the brain regulates states of consciousness. His studies on brain regulation of sleep, anesthesia, and pain have been continuously funded for three decades by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The clinical relevance of this line of research is clear from NIH statistics indicating that forty million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders, sixty million have frequent insomnia, and another twenty million have occasional sleep problems. Sleep disorders negatively impact quality of life, and chronic disorders of sleep are associated with increased morbidity and mortality. In spite of the negative impact of disordered sleep, treatments remain limited to symptom relief because the underlying brain mechanisms are not understood.
Sleep and anesthesia are distinctly different states that share some similarities—suggesting that studies of sleep states can also inform our understanding of states of anesthesia. In the United States anesthesia is administered to more than twenty million patients each year, yet exactly how anesthetics produces their desired effects remains unknown.
Lydic is a recipient of the Excellence in Research Award from The American Society of Anesthesiologists. He serves on the editorial board of four international journals, and reviews grant applications for the U.S. Army, the governments of Canada, Israel, and the Netherlands. He chairs the External Advisory Council for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute.