I am board-certified in otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) and sleep medicine. My clinical focus is on diagnosing and treating upper and lower airway disorders, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and other sleep and circadian conditions in children.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder. It occurs when breathing becomes repeatedly blocked while asleep, leading to reduced oxygen levels throughout the body. Throughout my career, I have spent much of my time treating children with obstructive sleep apnea and evaluating the risks for heart and lung disease in this population. While healthcare providers have multiple medical and surgical techniques to treat this disorder, there are many gaps in knowledge regarding how this condition changes over time.

We all have an internal clock that prepares the body to exercise, eat, digest and sleep at specific times of the day. In my lab, we are studying how disruption of this circadian clock occurs in the setting of obstructive sleep apnea. Using animal models, our efforts are aimed at better understanding this disease process and creating new treatments for obstructive sleep apnea.

At Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, I work closely with Dr. John Hogenesch and other circadian biologists to evaluate the role of the circadian clock in other diseases. We are using information from our labs to better understand human health and develop new treatments for disease. Along with these efforts, we have developed the Center for Circadian Medicine. More globally, our efforts are aimed at improving diagnostic procedures for children with circadian disorders, standardizing treatments for children with sleep disorders and determining how sleep disruption impacts other diseases. This bench-to-bedside approach can change the way we practice medicine.

Throughout my career, I have received multiple awards, including:

  • 2020 Co-Recipient of the Academic and Research Committee (ARC) Award from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • 2014 Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery recipient of the Frank L. Coulson, Jr. Award for Clinical Excellence from the Johns Hopkins Hospital Miller-Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence
  • 2017 Finalist for the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Fellow Scholarly Excellence Award
  • 2020 Recipient of the Carole L. Marcus Outstanding Achievement Award from the Pediatric Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology Assemblies of the American Thoracic Society
  • Recipient of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) K08 Mentored Career Development Award for "Circadian clock dysregulation in a model of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome" from the National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
  • Recipient of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Repayment Program for "Circadian dysregulation in pediatric obstructive sleep apnea"
  • 2020 Recipient of the Procter Scholar Award from the TAPS Program at Cincinnati Children's
  • 2017 Recipient of the Triological Society Career Development Award

As a surgeon and a scientist, my objective is to bridge the gap between research and clinical care. We endeavor to take new results uncovered in the lab and apply them to patient care. We are looking for methods to enhance treatment for children with sleep and circadian conditions.

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View publications on NCBI.

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A Word of Caution: Adenotonsillectomy May Help Reduce Central Apneas, but It Is Not a Treatment for Central Sleep Apnea. Smith, DF; Heubi, CH; Wit, R; Dye, TJ. Laryngoscope. 2022.

Sleep Endoscopy and Cine Magnetic Resonance Imaging Evaluation of Children With Persistent Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Li, C; Kou, YF; DeMarcantonio, MA; Heubi, CH; Fleck, R; Kandil, A; Smith, DF; Ishman, SL. Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. 2022.

Epigenetics of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome: a systematic review. Leader, BA; Koritala, BS C; Moore, CA; Grigg Dean, EH; Kottyan, LC; Smith, DF. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2021; 17:2533-2541.

Improving outcomes of hypoglossal nerve stimulation therapy: current practice, future directions, and research gaps. Proceedings of the 2019 International Sleep Surgery Society Research Forum. Suurna, MV; Jacobowitz, O; Chang, J; Koutsourelakis, I; Smith, D; Alkan, U; D'Agostino, M; Boon, M; Heiser, C; Hoff, P; et al. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2021; 17:2477-2487.

Early Atherosclerotic Inflammatory Pathways in Children with Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Smith, DF; Schuler, CL; Hossain, MM; Huang, G; McConnell, K; Urbina, EM; Amin, RS. Journal of Pediatrics. 2021; 239:168-174.

Intermittent Hypoxia Alters the Circadian Expression of Clock Genes in Mouse Brain and Liver. Koritala, BS C; Lee, YY; Bhadri, SS; Gaspar, LS; Stanforth, C; Wu, G; Ruben, MD; Francey, LJ; Smith, DF. Genes. 2021; 12.

Circadian Biology in Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Koritala, BS C; Conroy, Z; Smith, DF. Diagnostics. 2021; 11.

Systemic Bevacizumab for Treatment of Respiratory Papillomatosis: International Consensus Statement. Sidell, DR; Balakrishnan, K; Best, SR; Zur, K; Buckingham, J; De Alarcon, A; Baroody, FM; Bock, JM; Boss, EF; Bower, CM; et al. Laryngoscope. 2021; 131:E1941-E1949.

HPV Strain Predicts Severity of Juvenile-Onset Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis with Implications for Disease Screening. Bedard, MC; de Alarcon, A; Kou, YF; Lee, D; Sestito, A; Duggins, AL; Brusadelli, M; Lane, A; Wikenheiser-Brokamp, KA; Wells, SI; et al. Cancers. 2021; 13.

Elevation of CD40/CD40L Inflammatory Pathway Molecules in Carotid Plaques from Moderate-and-Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea Patients. Migacz, E; Olejarz, W; Gluszko, A; Bednarek-Rajewska, K; Proczka, R; Smith, DF; Ishman, SL; Kukwa, W. Diagnostics. 2021; 11.

From the Blog

Room for Improvement in Drug Dosage Timing in Hospitals
Quality and Safety

Room for Improvement in Drug Dosage Timing in Hospitals

David F. Smith, MD, PhD, John Hogenesch, PhD10/1/2019

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