Craig A. Canapari, MD, a pediatric sleep specialist and pulmonologist, says he has long been fascinated by the “art of breathing” and enjoys seeing how manipulating what seems like a simple act can help patients. “I began to love the field of pulmonology after I saw how we can take sick children with complex problems and help them breathe more easily,” he says.
Efficient breathing is a key element of another specialty Dr. Canapari was drawn to: sleep medicine. “Sleep sits at the intersection of pulmonology, neurology and psychiatry,” he says. “Some of the most interesting developments in medicine happen at the intersection of different fields.”
As the director of the pediatric Sleep Medicine Program, Dr. Canapari specializes in sleep disorders. He also treats children who have general pulmonary problems, including cough, shortness of breath and asthma, and children with muscular dystrophy.
The most rewarding elements of his job, he says, include helping children and their parents sleep better, keeping his patients with neuromuscular diseases well and out of the hospital, and helping kids with lung problems “be able to do everything their peers can do.” Key to achieving those goals is spending time getting to know the children he treats so that he can understand their normal routines.
An active researcher, Dr. Canapari is currently working with colleagues at Harvard to develop a smartphone app to assist parents with sleep training. He is also looking at how overnight sleep studies help children with obstructive sleep apnea use their CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines at home. Dr. Canapari is an assistant professor of pediatrics (respiratory medicine) at Yale School of Medicine.