Department of Medicine

University of Pittsburgh

Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine
3459 Fifth Avenue,
628 NW
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Academic Office: (412) 692-2210
Comprehensive Lung Center (Patient Care and Referral): (412) 648-6161

Charles W. Atwood Jr, MD, FCCP, FAASM

Dr. Atwood

Associate Professor of Medicine
Assistant Chief of Medicine, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
Director, Sleep Disorders Program, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
Director, UPMC Sleep Medicine Fellowship

UPMC Montefiore Hospital - NW628
3459 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Phone: 412-648-3098
Fax: 412-692-2260
Assistant: Stacie Truszkowski
Assistant Email:


Dr. Atwood graduated from the University of Alabama School of Medicine in 1988, where he also completed his medical internship and residence. He then moved to the University of Pittsburgh to complete a pulmonary and critical care medicine fellowship and an additional year of sleep medicine training. He joined the division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine in 1995. Dr. Atwood was the director of the pulmonary section at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) from 1997-2003. He also co-founded and has been the chief of the sleep laboratory at the VAPHS  since 1996. In this role he has fostered its growth to be one of the largest in the VA system.  In July, 2008 Dr. Atwood was appointed the Assistant Chief of Medicine at the VAPHS.

Clinical Interests

Dr. Atwood’s clinical interests are sleep medicine and general pulmonary medicine. He sees patients at the VAPHS and at the Comprehensive Lung Center at UPMC, working with all types of sleep disorders in his clinical work at both sites.  In addition to sleep disorders, he is interested in the clinical management of lung nodules. He also leads a lung nodule evaluation program at the VAPHS.

Academic and Research Interests

Dr. Atwood’s interests include:

Sleep apnea management with a focus on novel ways to diagnose and provide long-term care for sleep apnea patients
In particular, in the role of home sleep apnea testing as a way of diagnosing sleep apnea. Working closely with with Dr. Pat Strollo, he studies home sleep apnea testing and other aspects of sleep apnea diagnosis and therapy.  He has also worked with the pacemaker industry (Guidant/Boston Scientific) on studies examining various aspects of pacemaker technology as a possible diagnostic or treatment device in sleep apnea. Dr. Atwood is currently collaborating with Dr. John Hotchkiss and others in the Department of Critical Care Medicine on studies looking at new methods of identifying physiological patterns in sleep apnea  that may allow for better clinical phenotyping of sleep apnea patients. One patent on this work is pending.

Figure 1


Dr. Atwood is interested in why there is such a variability of presentation of sleepiness in OSA patients. This figure from the UPMC sleep laboratory demonstrates that among half the patients with severe sleep apnea (to the right of the purple line at AHI of 30), only about 50% demonstrate self reported sleepiness. Dr. Pat Strollo and Dr. Atwood are trying to unravel the causes of this.

This image from a home sleep apnea test of a patient with sleep apnea shows fluctuations in airflow and oxygen saturation.  Dr. Atwood is part of a team that is performing the first RCT of home sleep apnea testing focusing on clinical outcomes. This is funded by VA HSR&D.

Figure 2


Figure 3

COPD, focusing on longterm oxygen therapy and clinical trials in COPD
Dr. Atwood collaborates with the Emphysema Research Center on clinical trials in this area. Through the ERC, he is part of the NIH’s COPD clinical research network.

Relation between swallowing and breathing
Working with Dr. Roxann Gross of the UPMC Eye and Ear Institute, Dr. Atwood studies various aspects of the regulation of swallowing and breathing. This work has led to a better understanding of some basic physiological mechanisms with possible practical relevance that may lead to better therapy for dysphagia

Lung nodule management
Dr. Atwood started a program at the VAPHS for the rapid evaluation of lung nodules referred to the pulmonary division. He is interested in expanding this to a more academically focused effort examining patient preferences, choices and health economics of different management strategies in this area.

Dr. Atwood started the ACGME accredited sleep medicine fellowship at UPMC in 2006 and serves as its director. He enjoys working with other faculty, residents and fellows in pulmonary, psychiatry, pediatrics and neurology to further the mission of sleep medicine at UPMC.

Key Publications

Alaa Shalaby, Charles Atwood, Claudius Hansen, Martin Konerman, Pradip Jamnadis, Kent Lee, Roger Willems, Jesse Hartley, Jeffrey Stahmann, Jonathon Kwok, Quan Ni, Jorge Neuzner. Feasibility of automated detection of advanced sleep disordered breathing utilizing an implanted pacemaker ventilation sensor. Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology 2006;29:1036-43.

Roxann D.Gross, Charles W. Atwood, Jr., Judith P Grayhack, Susan Shaiman. Lung volume effects on Pharyngeal Swallowing Physiology. Journal of Applied Physiology 2003; 95:2211-2217.

Charles W. Atwood, Jr., Douglas McCrory, Joe G. N. Garcia, Steven Abman, Gregory S. Ahearn. Pulmonary Hypertension and Sleep-Disordered Breathing: An Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline. CHEST 2004; 126:72s-77s.

PubMed Link