The winning publication “The norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor reboxetine alone reduces obstructive sleep apnea severity: a double blind, placebo controlled, randomized, cross-over trial” explores the repurposing of a depression medication, reboxetine, for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea. Reboxetine has shown promise as a drug treatment for sleep apnoea when used in combination with other medications. Thomas’s research has showed that reboxetine on its own could also improve sleep apnea, and showed how its effect was predominantly affecting the way our brain controls breathing during sleep.
We invited Thomas to share his insights into the PhD journey and what advice he would give to fellow PhD students.
Tell us about your PhD journey so far.
At the start of 2020 I moved from Sydney, where I had just completed my medical specialty training, to Adelaide. This was when the Covid-19 pandemic was starting to affect daily life in Australia. Luckily, I was able to keep my clinical trials running in Adelaide without too many interruptions. During my PhD I took on a specialist role at Flinders Medical Centre, which helped me to keep my clinical skills up and also recruit participants for my research. I’ve had the opportunity to present my research findings at international respiratory and sleep conferences in Spain and New Zealand. By late 2022 I completed all my data collection, and am now focusing on completing my thesis.
Why did you choose to commence a PhD?
I chose to do a PhD firstly because I wanted to improve my understanding of airway disease and secondly because I had seen how clinicians who were actively involved in strong research groups could offer such great treatment opportunities to patients.
What advice would you give to current or prospective PhD Students?
My first piece of advice would be to find a supervisor who you feel supported by. A PhD is a long and involved process, so you want a supervisor who has time to dedicate towards your PhD and is motivated to help you see it through to the end. The second piece of advice would be to find a research group that has resources, support personnel, and a mix of researchers at different career stages. Such a mixture of attributes will help you to keep progressing your PhD and allow you to learn about the ‘bigger picture’ of research beyond the PhD.
The norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor reboxetine alone reduces obstructive sleep apnea severity: a double blind, placebo controlled, randomized, cross-over trial
Thomas J. Altree; Atqiya Aishah; Kelly A. Loffler; Ronald R. Grunstein; Danny J. Eckert
Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine