Kristen Knutson

Assistant Professor
Section of Pulmonary & Critical Care, Department of Medicine

Kristen Knutson, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care at the University of Chicago.  She is also a member of the Sleep, Metabolism and Health Center.  She received her PhD in biomedical anthropology from the University at Albany, SUNY.  Biomedical anthropology teaches that human health is more than simply a manifestation of underlying physiology. Social factors, cultural practices and complex behavior also play an important role in human health.  As a biomedical anthropologist, she is interested in how these factors intersect with sleep physiology to impact human health.  As such, her research focuses on the association between sleep and cardiometabolic health, including diabetes and obesity, in various populations.  Her previous research included analyzing sleep and health among nationally representative study of adolescents in the U.S. (the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health) as well as an epidemiologic study of sleep (CARDIA), a diabetes survey study, a cross-cultural study, and a study of sleep in Haiti.  She is particularly interested in examining the role sleep plays in disease risk and identifying biopsychosocial factors that predict impaired or insufficient sleep.  Moving forward, her research will examine whether sleep partially mediates socioeconomic and/or racial/ethnic disparities in cardiometabolic diseases.  She is currently conducting two research studies along these lines.  One will examine the effect of a behavioral intervention to improve sleep among African Americans and the other will examine habitual sleep and circadian phase measured at home as mediators of racial disparities in diabetes risk between African Americans and non-Hispanic whites.