Geriatrics Education

Specialty Clinics

Clinical Care


Penn Memory Centers

Sleep Research


The Institute on Aging

Ralston Center

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Nalaka S. Gooneratne, M.D., M.Sc.

Associate Professor of Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Presbyterian Medical Center of Philadelphia and the Veteran's Administration Medical Center
Fellow, Institute on Aging (University of Pennsylvania)
Member, Center for Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology (University of Pennsylvania)
Member, Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics
Director, Masters of Translational Research - Entrepreneurial Science Track
Director, mHealth mobile app/device service (University of Pennsylvania Clinical and Translational Science Award)
Director, Innovative Insomnia Therapeutics Clini (Division of Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania)
Department: Medicine

Contact information
Ralston Penn Center, Room 220
3615 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215 662-7772 clinical
Fax: 215-573-8684 no clinical inf
Lab: 215-746-3098 no clinical calls
Cert. (French)
Ecole de Français Moderne, Université de Lausanne, Switzerland, 1989.
B.S. (Medical Education)
Northwestern University (Honors Program) (Graduated with Distinction), 1991.
M.D. (Medicine)
Northwestern University School of Medicine (Graduated with Distinction), 1993.
M.Sc. (Clinical Epidemiology)
Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania, 2002.
Post-Graduate Training
Intern in Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 1993-1994.
Resident in Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 1994-1996.
Fellow, Pulmonary and Critical Care, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 1996-1998.
Program in Patient-Oriented Research, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 1997-1998.
Geriatric Clinical Epidemiology Fellowship, Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 1998-2002.
Fellow, Sleep Disorders, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 1999-1999.
American Board of Internal Medicine (Pulmonary Disease certified 1999), 1999.
American Board of Sleep Medicine, 2001.
American Board of Internal Medicine (Internal Medicine certified 1996), 2006.
American Board of Internal Medicine (Sleep Medicine certified 2009), 2009.
American Board of Internal Medicine (Sleep Medicine re-certified 2019), 2019.
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Description of Research Expertise

Research Interests:

Aging, sleep, complementary/alternative medicine, melatonin, patient-oriented research, translational research, categorical data, clinical trials, multivariate analysis, time series.

Description of Research:

Dr. Gooneratne’s research interests are centered around studying the nature of sleep disorders in the elderly. While many older adults complain of difficulties with sleep, it is an area about which modern medicine has only a limited understanding. Funded initially by a National Institute on Aging Mentored Research Career Development Award (K23), he is pursuing research examining the role of melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland, in sleep in the elderly and the effects of sleep apnea treatment on cognitive function in older adults. Dr.Gooneratne also runs a Sleep Disorders Clinic for Seniors in an effort to address the medical needs of older patients with sleep disorders. In addition, Dr. Gooneratne is the Associate Director of the Masters in Translational Research Program, with a focus on Entrepreneurial Science education at the University of Pennsylvania's ITMATEd program. He is the director of the mHealth mobile app development service at ITMAT (CTSA/Penn). He also helps to coordinate the research activities of the Geriatric fellows in the Division of Geriatric Medicine and mentors research fellows in the Division of Sleep Medicine.

Description of Clinical Expertise

Dr. Gooneratne's clinical focus is in the area of sleep disorders in older adults. He has been invited to lecture on this topic at national conferences, such as those hosted by the American Association of Sleep Medicine, the American Thoracic Society as well as the National Institutes of Health State-of-the-Science conference on Chronic Insomnia. Dr. Gooneratne runs a Sleep Disorders Clinic for Seniors which is tailored to the unique needs of older adults as they seek to address their sleep disturbances.

Description of Other Expertise

Dr. Gooneratne has an interest in education and implementation of academic entrepreneurship in the life sciences. He currently teaches two classes in this area, and is the Director of the Entrepreneurship concentration in the Masters in Translational Research (MTR) Program.

Selected Publications

Elkhatib Smidt SD, Gooneratne N, Brodkin ES, Bucan M, Mitchell JA: Sufficient sleep duration in autistic children and the role of physical activity. Autism 26(4): 814-826, May 2022.

Izci-Balserak B, Zhu B, Wang H, Bronas UG, Gooneratne NS: Independent associations between sleep duration, gamma gap, and cognitive function among older adults: Results from the NHANES 2013-2014. Geriatr Nurs 44: 1-7, Apr 2022.

Perlis ML, Morales KH, Vargas I, Muench A, Seewald M, Gooneratne N, Grandner MA, Thase ME, Kaptchuk TJ, Ader R.: Durability of treatment response to zolpidem using a partial reinforcement regimen: does this strategy require priming? Sleep Med 87: 56-61, November 2021.

Perlis ML, Morales KH, Vargas I, Posner DA, Grandner MA, Muench AL, Seewald MW, Gooneratne NS, Kloss JD, Gencarelli AM, Khader WS, Thase ME, Ellis JG.: The natural history of insomnia: Does sleep extension differentiate between those that do and do not develop chronic insomnia? J Sleep Res 30(5), October 2021.

Li J, Szanton SL, McPhillips MV, Lukkahatai N, Pien GW, Chen K, Hladek MD, Hodgson N, Gooneratne NS.: An mHealth-Facilitated Personalized Intervention for Physical Activity and Sleep in Community-Dwelling Older Adults. J Aging Phys Act Sep 2021.

Hodgson NA, Gooneratne N, Perez A, Talwar S, Huang L.: A timed activity protocol to address sleep-wake disorders in home dwelling persons living with dementia: the healthy patterns clinical trial. BMC Geriatr 21: 451, Aug 2021.

Sun J, McPhillips MV, Chen KC, Zang Y, Li J, Oehlke J, Brewster GS, Gooneratne NS.: Primary care provider evaluation and management of insomnia. J Clin Sleep Med 17: 1083-1091, May 2021.

McPhillips MV, Petrovsky DV, Brewster GS, Li J, Gooneratne NS, Hodgson NA, Sefcik JS.: Recruiting Persons with Dementia and Caregivers in a Clinical Trial: Dyads Perceptions. West J Nurs Res Apr 2021.

Richards K, Morrison J, Wang YY, Rangel A, Loera A, Hanlon A, Lozano A, Kovach C, Gooneratne N, Fry L, Allen R.: Nighttime Agitation and Restless Legs Syndrome in Persons With Alzheimer's Disease: Study Protocol for a Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Trial (NightRest). Res Gerontol Nurs 13: 280-288, Nov 2020.

Petrovsky, D., Gooneratne, N.S., Gerdner, L.A., Bradt, J., Gitlin, L.N., Hodgson, N.A.: Tailored Music Listening Intervention to Reduce Sleep Disturbances in Older Adults with Dementia: Research Protocol. Research in Nursing and Health Page: 1-11, October 2020.

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Last updated: 04/28/2022
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