Obituary: Dr. Christian Guilleminault, Sleep Medicine Pioneer

Christian Guilleminault

It is with the utmost respect that we announce the passing of Dr. Christian Guilleminault July 9, 2019, in Palo Alto, CA, from metastatic cancer. Guilleminault was surrounded by family, colleagues, and fellows during his final days. The messages and outreach from across the globe have been overwhelming this past month.   

Dr. CG, as he was kindly known by his friends and colleagues, dedicated his life to advancing the science and clinical practices of treating sleep apnea and sleep-related conditions. He was always a pioneer, a man in search of answers, and a better way to treat patients by making an impact on their lives. He was a true innovator pushing the status quo.  He shared his talent, knowledge and passion with colleagues and fellows around the world, from South America to Asia to Europe.

Dr. Guilleminault is world renowned for his research on sleep apnea, especially in the pediatrics field, as well as narcolepsy, REM behavior disorder, and drowsy driving. He was also one of the first to identify and classify sleep disorders and lead the field in groundbreaking research when sleep was yet to be considered a medical specialty. Working in collaboration with Dr. William C. Dement, Dr. Guilleminault established the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), which is still in use today to characterize the presence and severity of sleep apnea.

Dr. Guilleminault described the presence of “obstructive sleep apnea syndrome” (OSAS) in children, demonstrating its association with learning and attention problems along with cardiovascular derangements. Following this work, he went on to describe the presence of elevated upper airway resistance in children, emphasizing the symptoms of attention deficit, hyperactivity, and abnormal behavior during wakefulness and sleep, learning disabilities and sleepwalking, sleep terrors and enuresis that accompanied this form of sleep-related breathing disorder; he described the same syndrome in adults and penned the term “upper airway resistance syndrome” (UARS) in adults.

Dr. Laura Roberts, Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, best describes Dr. Guilleminault in her quote: “Christian Guilleminault’s scholarly and clinical contributions to the field of Sleep Medicine are immense. From his discoveries to the hundreds of students he has trained and mentored to the many thousands of patients of all ages whose lives he has transformed; we are in his debt. We could not be prouder to call him a member of the Stanford faculty, but know that in reality he belongs to the world.”

Tributes, memorials, and donations in lieu of flowers, will go to the founding of the “Right Under Your Nose” campaign to continue Dr. Guilleminaut’s vision going forward.  This campaign will be announced at the 9/19/19 AWAKETOGETHER Summit.

In step with honoring the work most important to Dr. Guilleminault, the ASAA ( will continue his passion and vision towards early recognition in pediatrics, multidisciplinary care, as well as searching for a potential cure for pediatric sleep apnea.

Source: (reprinted with permission).

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