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VISN 2 Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention

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Wilfred R. Pigeon, PhD
Director of Research





Biography: Dr. Pigeon is the Director of the VA Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention (CoE) where he also serves as the Chief of Clinical Research and senior clinical investigator. Dr. Pigeon also holds an appointment as a clinical investigator with the VA's Center for Integrated Healthcare. Dr. Pigeon is also a licensed psychologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center where he is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Sleep & Neurophysiology Research Lab.

He has an undergraduate degree in psychology from Dartmouth College, a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Antioch New England, and a doctorate in clinical psychology from Union Institute; his internship and subsequent post-doctoral fellowship in Behavioral Medicine were completed at Dartmouth Medical School. He has a specific clinical focus on sleep disturbances across a wide variety of conditions. Dr. Pigeon carries the American of Academy of Sleep Medicine’s Certification in Behavioral Sleep Medicine (BSM) and has chaired several national groups including the American of Academy of Sleep Medicine’s (AASM) Behavioral Sleep Medicine Committee, an AASM Task Force on CBT for insomnia, and an Expert Panel on Trauma and Sleep Disturbance, has authored the self-help book ‘Sleep Manual,’ and trains clinicians locally, regionally and nationally.

Dr Pigeon is a member of the VA Central Office (VACO) Work Group that developed the training program of CBT for insomnia for the Veterans Health Administration; he serves on the VACO Mental Innovations Work Group for suicide prevention.

Research Interests: Dr. Pigeon’s primary research focus is on the mechanisms, consequences and treatment of sleep disturbance with a secondary focus on other common conditions that present in VA mental health and primary care settings. This work is conducted with emphases on: suicide risk/suicide prevention; primary care and mental health integration; novel intervention approaches including mindfulness-based stress reduction, sequencing and combining evidence-based interventions; and the impact of treatment on neurobiological correlates of these conditions. He has received funding from NIH, DoD, VA, foundation, and industry sources. He has tested behavioral sleep interventions in a variety of patient populations including those with chronic pain, depression, sexual trauma, interpersonal violence, and combat-related PTSD. He has adapted these interventions for use in primary care settings, which are currently being tested.

Recent Publications: 

Pigeon, W., & Mellman, T. A. (in press). Dreams and nightmares in posttraumatic stress disorder. In M. Kryger, T. Roth, & W. Dement (Eds.), Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine, 6th Edition. Philadelphia: Elsevier.

Pigeon, W., & Carr, M. (in press). Nightmares and PTSD: Characterization, theories and treatment approaches. In V. R. Preedy (Ed.), The Comprehensive Guide to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders. New York: Springer.

Pigeon, W., Heffner, K. L., Crean, C., Gallegos, A. M., Walsh, P., Seehuus, M., & Cerulli, C. (in press). Responding to the need for sleep among survivors of interpersonal violence: a randomized controlled trial of a behavioral insomnia intervention followed by PTSD treatment. Contemporary Clinical Trials.

Duberstein, P., Wittink, M., & Pigeon, W. (in press). Person-centered prevention of suicide in primary care settings.  In L. C. James, B. Bogner, & G. Sullivan (Eds.), Suicidal Behavior in Military and Veteran Populations. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Ashrafioun, L., Pigeon, W., Conner, K. R., Leong, S., & Oslin, D. W. (in press). Prevalence and correlates of suidical ideation and suicide attempts among veterans in primary care referred to a mental health evaluation. Journal of Affective Disorders.

Pigeon, W., & Gallegos, A. (2015). Posttraumatic stress disorder & sleep. Sleep Medicine Clinics, 10, 41-48.

Yurcheshen, M., Seehuus, M., & Pigeon, W. (2015). Updates on nutraceutical sleep therapeutics and investigational research. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 1-9.

Redeker, N. S., Pigeon, W., & Boudreau, E. A. (2015). Incorporating measures of sleep quality into cancer studies. Supportive Care in Cancer, 23, 1145-1155.

Kopacz, M., Currier, J. M., Drescher, K., & Pigeon, W. (2015). Suicidal behavior and spiritual functioning in a sample of veterans diagnosed with PTSD. Journal of Injury and Violence Research, 8, Advance online publication.

Gallegos, A., Cross, W., & Pigeon, W. (2015). Mindfulness-baed stress reduction for veterans exposed to military sexual trauma: Rationale and implementation consideratiions. Military Medicine, 180(6), 684-689.

Pigeon, W., Allen, C., Possemato, K., Bergen-Cico, D., & Treatman, S. (2015). Feasibility and acceptability of a brief mindfulness program for veterans in primary care with posttraumatic stress disorder. Mindfulness, 6(5), 986-995.

Shepardson, R. L., Funderburk, J. S., Pigeon, W., & Maisto, S. A. (2014). Insomnia treatment experience and preferences among VA primary care patients. Military Medicine, 179(10), 1072-1076.

Miller, C. B., Espie, C. A., Epstein, D. R., Friedman, L., Morin, C. M., Pigeon, W., Spielman, A.J., & Kyle, S. D (2014). The evidence base of sleep restriction therapy for treating insomnia disorder. Sleep Mediciine Review, 18, 415-424.

Bishop, T. M., & Pigeon, W. (2014). Using behavior al therapies in primary care. In J. Pagel & P. Ratnas (Eds.), Primary Care Sleep Medicine a Practical Guide, 2nd Edition, New York: Springer Science.

Pigeon, W. R., Campbell, C., Possemato, K., & Ouimette, P. (2013). Longitudinal relationships of insomnia, nightmares, and PTSD severity in recent combat veterans. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 75(6), 546-550.

Bishop, T., Pigeon, W. R., & Possemato., K. (in press). Suicidality and sleep disturbance among VA primary care patients. Military Behavioral Health, 1(2), 81-84.

Pigeon, W. R., Pinquart, M., & Conner, K.. (2012). Meta-analysis of sleep disturbance and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 73(9), 1160-1167.

Pigeon, W. R., & Cribbet, M. R. (2012). The pathophysiology of insomnia: From models to molecules (and back). Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine, 18(6): 546-553.

Pigeon, W. R., Moynihan, J., Matteson-Rusby, S., Jungquist, C., Xia, Y., Tu, X., & Perlis, M. L. (2012). Comparative effectiveness of CBT interventions for comorbid chronic pain and insomnia: A pilot study. Behaviour Research & Therapy, 50(11), 685-689.

Jungquist, C. R., Tra, Y., Smith, M. T., Pigeon, W. R., Matteson-Rusby, S., Xia, Y., & Perlis, M. L. (2012). The durability of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia in patients with chronic pain. Sleep Disorders. Article ID 679648, 8 pages, doi:10.1155/2012/679648

Perlis, M. L., Gehrman, P., Pigeon, W. R., Findley, J., & Drummond, S. (2012) Neurobiologic mechanisms in chronic insomnia: An update. Sleep Medicine Clinics, 7(3), 545-554.

MacGregor, K. L., Funderburk, J. S., Pigeon, W. R., Maisto, S. A. (2012) Evaluation of the PHQ-9 item 3 as a screen for sleep distrubance in primary care? Journal of General Internal Medicine, 27, 339-344.

Manber, R., Carney, C., Edinger, J., Epstein, D., Friedman, L., Haynes, P. L., Karlin, B. E., Pigeon, W. R., Siebern, A. T., & Trockle, M. (2012). Dissemination of CBT-I to the non-sleep specialist: Protocol development and training issues. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 8(2), 209-218.

Pigeon, W. R., Britton, P., Ilgen, M., Chapman, P., & Conner, K. (2012) Sleep disturbance preceding suicide among veterans. American Journal of Public Health, 102(S1), S93-S97.

Heffner, K. L., Ng, H. M., Suhr, J. A., France, C.R., Marshall, G.D., Pigeon, W. R., & Moynihan, J. A. (2012). Sleep disturbance and older adults’ inflammatory responses to acute stress. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 20(9): 744-752.

Recent Presentations:

Pigeon, W. (2015, June). Writing pilot, dissertation, and individual training grant proposals. Workshop presented at the annual meeting of Sleep 2015, Seattle WA.

Pigeon, W. (2015, June). Case Study. In Christi Ulmer (Chair), Current & Future Models of Care in Behavioral Sleep Medicine. Paper presented at the annual meeting of Sleep 2015, Seattle, WA.

Pigeon, W. (2015, January). Sleep & suicide. Paper presented at the annual VA-DOD Suicide Prevention Conference, Dallas, TX.

Pigeon, W., Cerulli, C., Crean, H., Gallegos, A. M., Nelson, L., Casey, C., Gorman, C., Walsh, P., Seehuus, M., Hoh, B., Akinpelu, N., Bui, A., Bishop, T. M., & Heffner, K. (2015, June). Cognitive-Behavioral therapy for insomnia for survivors of interpersonal violence who subsequently receive cognitive processing therapy. Poster session presented at the annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, Seattle, WA.

Pigeon, W., & Funderburk, J. S. (2015, July). Development, results & refinement of a primary care-based insomnia intervention for depressed veterans with and without suicidal ideation. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the VA HSRD/QUERI Conference, Philadelphia, PA.

Pigeon, W. (2015, June). Managing aleep in VA primary care. Paper presented at the annual meetinig of Sleep 2015, Seattle WA.

Bishop, T. M., Maissto, S. A., Ditre, J., Ashrafioun, L., & Pigeon, W. (2015, April). Feasibility of using interactive voice recording in the temporal assessment of suicidal ideation and substance use among veterans in primary care. Poster session presented at the annual meeting the American Association for Suicidology, Atlanta, GA.

Jungquist, C. R., Marcus, J. A., Valerio, T. D., White, T. V., Perlis, M. L., Pigeon, W. R., & Haill, K. (2011.) Validation of the sleep disorders screening questionnaire. Sleep, 34S: A329.

Zayfert, C., Dryman, M. T., Morris, K., DeViva, J., & Pigeon, W. R. (2011). The role of fear of sleep and rumination in the sleep disturbance of patients with PTSD. Paper presented at the annual Meeting of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, Baltimore, MD.

Pigeon, W. R., Perlis, M. L., Erdman, E., Gorman, C., Casey, C., Heffner, K., & Moynihan J. (2011.) Slow wave sleep, but not insomnia, is associated with diminished antibody response to a hepatitis B vaccine. Sleep, 34S: A43.

Matteson-Rusby, S. E., Pigeon, W. R., Gorman, C., Perlis, M. L., & Wittlin ,S. (2010.) The prevalence of insomnia in 543 edocrinology outpatients with diabetes. Sleep, 33S: A298.

Pigeon, W. R., Matteson-Rusby, S. E., Claassen, C., & Knox, K. (2010.) CBT for sleep disturbances in combat veterans: preliminary findings. Sleep, 33S: A236.

Pigeon, W. R., Funderburk, J. S., & Maisto, S. A. (2010.) Treatment experiences and treatment preferences of veterans with sleep disturbance in primary care. Sleep, 33S: A224.

Recent Grants:

Principal Investigator: Managing sleep symptoms & modifying mechanisms of traumatic stress. (With: K. Heffner). National Institute of Nursing Research [R01 NR013909]. (2012-2016).

Principal Investigator: Slow wave sleep and inflammatory processes in pain. (With: K. Heffner). NIH/NIA [R21 AG041942]. (2012-2014).

Co-Investigator: Pilot test of behavioral activation for depression & suicidality in primary care. (PI: J. S. Funderburk) VA Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention. (2012-2013).

Co-Principal Investigator: Mindfulness based stress reduction for primary care veterans with PTSD symptoms: clinical demonstration project. (Co-PI: K. Possemato). VA Office of Mental Health Services. (2011-2013).

Principal Investigator: Brief CBT for insomnia in VA primary care patients with depression & insomnia to reduce suicide risk. VA Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention. (2011-2013).

Principal Investigator: Pattern and prevalence of sleep disturbances in OEF/OIF veterans with PTSD symptoms and piloting a brief primary care based intervention. VA Center for Integrated Healthcare. (2010-12).


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