2018 National RLS Patient Symposium Speakers

Mark Buchfuhrer

Mark J. Buchfuhrer, MD, FRCP(C), FCCP

Downey Regional Medical Center; Downey, CA

Dr. Buchfuhrer is an attending staff physician at Downey Regional Medical Center, Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital and Long Beach Community Hospital in Downey, California. He started a sleep laboratory at Downey Regional Medical Center in 1983 and then became a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine. Dr. Buchfuhrer became interested in RLS in about 1992 and has developed a large outpatient RLS practice. He has served on the Medical Advisory Board of the RLS Foundation from 1998 to 2005. Dr. Buchfuhrer has written several publications on RLS including the patient book RLS, Coping With Your Sleepless Nights sponsored by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), a handbook for doctors on RLS and is currently working on his third book.

Karla Dzienkowski

Karla Dzienkowski, RN, BSN

Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation, Austin, TX

In January 2014, Karla accepted the position of executive director at the RLS Foundation. Since then she has made a huge impact on the organization. Karla first learned about RLS in her dual roles as a mother and registered nurse when her daughter, then 11 1/2 years old, began to experience symptoms that doctors could not explain. Karla crossed the country looking for answers before finally finding a knowledgeable doctor, and shortly after, the RLS Foundation. Eager for answers, Karla joined the Foundation's Board of Directors in 2004 and served through 2009. As a board member, she encouraged pediatric RLS research, along with programs to increase awareness and education of RLS in the medical and school communities. Karla believes that much work has yet to be done in disseminating information about RLS to the public and the medical community, and that much more research into its cause and treatment is needed. Karla drives the mission of the Foundation with her leadership, and she is passionate about promoting research for better treatments and a cure.


Christopher J. Earley, MB, BCh, PhD, FRCPI

Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center; Baltimore, MD

Dr. Earley is a Professor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he also co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Restless Legs, a certified RLS Quality Care Center. Dr. Earley is board certified in internal medicine, neurology and sleep medicine. Dr. Earley's research interests include RLS and sleep medicine, specifically the pathophysiology of RLS and revealing the value of various treatments. He is chair of the RLS Foundation’s Scientific and Medical Advisory Board and is an active member of the Foundation's Research Grant Committee.


William Ondo, MD

Houston Methodist Neurological Institute; Houston, TX

Dr. Ondo serves as director of the Movement Disorder Clinic at the Houston Methodist Neurological Institute, a certified RLS Quality Care Center. Throughout his career, Ondo has written more than 250 articles and book chapters. A movement disorder specialist, he is board certified in adult neurology and sleep medicine. Ondo's research specializes in Parkinson's disease, essential tremors, the use of botulinum toxins in treating movement disorders, and restless legs syndrome. At the RLS Foundation, Ondo is an active member of the Opiates Committee on the RLS Foundation Scientific and Medical Advisory Board.


Shalini Paruthi, MD

St. Louis University School of Medicine; St. Louis, MO

Dr. Paruthi practices in St. Louis, MO, where she sees patients of all ages. She has a particular interest in sleep disorders of childhood –obstructive sleep apnea, insomnias, narcolepsy, and –of course –restless legs syndrome. Not only do her patients benefit from her extensive study; she is a teacher as well –as an adjunct associate professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and is board-certified in Sleep Medicine and Internal Medicine. Dr. Paruthi’s interest and energy extend to research pursuits as well, extending our understanding of sleep and its many disruptions and diseases. She is Co-Director of the Sleep Medicine and Research Center at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis. She has contributed widely to activities of American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) chairing sleep focused conferences, participating in task forces, serving on committees, including the Education Committee and national SLEEP meeting Program Committee. Currently she is on the editorial advisory board for Sleep Review: the Journal for Sleep Specialists, and recently joined the RLS Foundation Board of Directors.


David Rye, MD, PhD

Emory University School of Medicine; Atlanta, GA

Dr. Rye is a professor of neurology at Emory University’s School of Medicine and the director of research for Emory Healthcare’s Program in Sleep Medicine. Rye is an internationally recognized expert in narcolepsy and related disorders of excessive daytime sleepiness and movement disorders in sleep, particularly Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). Rye was part of the international team that identified the first gene variant associated with RLS, a neurological condition characterized by periodic leg movements in sleep and the irresistible urge to move the legs. He also led a team that linked RLS to high blood pressure and related vascular risks. His current research focuses on RLS and hypersomnia. Rye is committed to advancing our understanding of the genetic and pharmacological underpinnings for sleep and its disorders with an eye on recognizing and improving treatment choices for patients.


John W. Winkelman, MD, PhD

Harvard Medical School; Boston, MA

Board certified in both psychiatry and sleep medicine, Winkelman treats patients at Massachusetts General Hospital. He specializes in RLS, insomnia, sleep apnea, sleep-related eating disorders and parasomnias. Winkelman's research primarily focuses on:

  • Epidemiology, physiology, cardiovascular consequences and the treatment of RLS
  • Neurobiology and treatment of insomnia

Winkelman serves as chair of the American Academy of Neurology Practice Parameter Committee for the treatment of RLS. At the RLS Foundation, Winkelman is the current chair of the Opiates committee and serves on the Revised Treatment Consensus committee.