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Richard Allen

Richard P Allen PhD, FAASM

Associate Professor, Department of Neurology, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

Dr. Allen is a diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and associate professor in Neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and his doctorate in psychology from the University of Cambridge, Cambridge England. He founded and co-directed the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center and the Hopkins’ center for the study of the restless legs syndrome. He chaired the NIH-RLSF workshop that produced the current diagnostic standard for the restless legs syndrome (aka Willis Ekbom disease) and has produced clinical standards for RLS/WED diagnoses and evaluation currently used in most RLS/WED clinical trials. He chaired the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group from 2007-2011 and is president of the World Association of Sleep Medicine. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles on sleep-disorders including pioneering work on RLS augmentation, dopamine and IV iron RLS treatments and the iron-dopamine and more recently the iron-glutamate abnormalities of RLS. His work demonstrated the marked efficacy of dopaminergic treatment of RLS compared to an opioid treatment, but he also was the first to document the problem of RLS augmentation with dopaminergic treatments. His work on augmentation has revealed the high and persisting rate of this problem and his most recent collaborative study documented this was a problem for RLS treatment with commonly used inter-mediate acting dopamine agonists but not for the alpha-2-delta ligands that are equally effective for treating RLS. 

Dr. Allen recently completed the first animal study on IV iron effects on brain iron, and studies of IV iron treatment of iron deficiency anemia and RLS. He has ongoing NIH funded research on glutamate, hyperarousal and RLS using 7T MRI spectroscopy, transcranial magnetic brain stimulation and EEG sleep. He headed a large international study that demonstrated major advantages for a new drug compared with current standard drug treatments of RLS.  He developed novel methods for ambulatory recording of leg movements in sleep that have been validated.

Recent Contributions to PracticeUpdate:

  1. Pregabalin May Be an Alternative for Restless Leg Syndrome