RLS Foundation Board of Directors

The Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) Foundation Board of Directors is responsible for setting organizational goals and priorities, monitoring fiscal status and planning for the Foundation’s future.

LewPhelps - 115x115

Lewis Phelps, Chair

Pasadena, CA

Linda Secretan

Linda R. Secretan, Secretary

Eagle, ID


Ronald W. Barrett, PhD,Treasurer

Saratoga, CA

Bob Waterman

Robert (Bob) Waterman, Jr., Chair Emeritus

Hillsborough CA

Ron Anderson

Ronald E. Anderson, PhD

St. Paul, MN

Jacci Bainbridge

Jacquelyn (Jacci) Bainbridge, PharmD

Englewood, CO

Marcia Ball

Marcia Ball

Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

Jeffrey Durmer

Jeffrey S. Durmer, MD, PhD

Denver, CO

Steve McCann

Steve McCann

Atlantic Beach, FL

Greg Oberland

Greg Oberland

Whitefish Bay, WI


Shalini Paruthi, MD

St. Louis, MO

Carla Rahn Phillips

Carla Rahn Phillips, PhD

Wimberley, TX

Paul Rochester

Paul Rochester

San Francisco, CA


Ellen Spoehr

Chadds Ford, PA

RLS Foundation Scientific and Medical Advisory Board 

The Foundation’s Scientific and Medical Advisory Board is responsible for monitoring medical and scientific/research issues, reviewing content of all Foundation publications, reviewing research grant applications,and advising the Board of Directors on issues of medical or scientific interest and importance.


Meet the Board


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

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 combined Scientific and Medical Advisory Board (SMAB) and an active member of the Foundation's Research Grant Committee.


Philip Becker, MD

Dallas, TX

Becker is the founding partner and retired president of Sleep Medicine Associates of Texas, P.A., and served as medical director for the Sleep Medicine Institute at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas for nearly 25 years. Becker served as a Clinic Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas until his retirement in 2019. Becker is an active member of the RLS Foundation's Opiates Committee and Quality Care Certification Committee.


J. Andrew Berkowski, MD

University of Michigan; Ann Arbor, MI

Dr. Berkowski is an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan and an expert in RLS. He cares for patients in the Sleep Disorders Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan; addressing a wide range of sleep disorders in adults.

Before receiving Board Certification in Sleep Medicine and Neurology, Dr. Berkowski earned his bachelor’s degree in religious studies at Stanford University. Next, he returned to his home state of Michigan to study medicine—graduating from Wayne State University School of Medicine. He completed a transitional year internship at Henry Ford Hospital and neurology residency training at the Detroit Medical Center/Wayne State University. Dr. Berkowski completed his fellowship training in sleep medicine at the Stanford University Medical Center.


Marie-Francoise Chesselet, MD, PhD

University of California; Los Angeles, CA

Chesselet is the Charles H. Markham Professor of Neurology and Distinguished Professor of Neurology and Neurobiology at UCLA. Chesselet is a member of numerous scientific advisory boards, including the Hereditary Disease Foundation, the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the American Parkinson's Disease Association. Chesselet's research focuses on Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases, specifically the identification of molecular mechanisms of disease and the preclinical testing of potential neuroprotective treatments. At the RLS Foundation, Chesselet serves as chair of the Research Grant Committee.


Stefan Clemens, PhD, HdR

East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

Dr. Clemens is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. His research focuses on investigating the neural networks in the spinal cord, especially their role in neurological disorders, like RLS. He studies the role of dopamine in the spinal cord, and how the interactions between its different receptor subtypes may play a role in augmentation. At the Foundation, Dr. Clemens chairs the Brain Bank Committee and is an active member of the Research Grant Committee.


James R. Connor, PhD, MS

Hershey Medical Center, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine; Hershey, PA

Connor is a distinguished professor of neurosurgery, neural and behavioral sciences and pediatrics at The Pennsylvania College of Medicine. He also serves as the vice chair of neurosurgery research at the university, as well as the director for the Center for Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases. His primary areas of research focus on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which cells regulate their iron status. Connor is an active member of the Brain Bank and Research Grant Committees.


Sergi Ferré, MD, PhD

Integrative Neurobiology Section National Institute on Drug Abuse
 IRP, NIH, DHHS; Baltimore, MD

Ferré is chief of the Integrative Neurobiology Section at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, IRP, NIH. He is an RLS Foundation research grant recipient where he researched cortico-striatal transmission in iron-deficient rats as a model for the screening of drugs potentially useful in the treatment of RLS. Ferré's research interests focus on the role of neurotransmitter receptor heteromers as targets for drug development in neuropsychiatric disorders, including substance use disorders. At the Foundation, he serves as a member of the Research Grant Committee.


Jennifer G. Hensley, EdD, CNM, WHNP, LCCE

Baylor University, Louise Herrington School of Nursing; Waco, TX

Jennifer Hensley is a certified nurse-midwife and women's health nurse practitioner. She built her clinical scholarship on restless legs syndrome during pregnancy and sleep disorders in women across the lifespan. She is an active member of the RLS Foundation's Quality Care Certification and Medical Bulletin Committees.


Byron C. Jones, PhD

University of Tennessee Health Science Center; Memphis, TN

Jones is a professor of genetics, genomics, and informatics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, where he also serves as a member of the university's Neuroscience Institute. At Pennsylvania State University, Jones is a Professor Emeritus in behavioral health. His research interests include:

- Response to chronic and acute stress in adaptation and alcohol consumption
- Toxiogenetics of pesticides and neurotoxins
- Genetics of metal regulation in the brain (copper, iron and zinc)

At the RLS Foundation, Jones is an active member of the Research Grant Committee.


Brian Koo, MD

Yale Center for Sleep Medicine; New Haven, CT

Koo is the director for the Yale Center for Restless Legs Syndrome, an RLS Foundation certified RLS Quality Care Center, as well as the chief medical director of Sleep Medicine at the Connecticut Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. Koo is an assistant professor of neurology at Yale University, and has been an active member of tasks forces and section committees related to the sleep-related movement disorders in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. At the RLS Foundation, he serves as chair for the Medical Bulletin Committee. Koo is board certified in both neurology and sleep medicine, and much of his research lies in those categories. His research on RLS and PLMS has included animal modeling, epidemiology and human genetics.


Mauro Manconi, MD, PhD

Sleep and Epilepsy Center; Civic Hospital Neurocenter of Southern Switzerland

Manconi is director of the Sleep Center, Neurocenter of Southern Switzerland, a certified RLS Foundation Quality Care Center. He also teaches at the Master School of Medicine at Bern University, the Institute of Communication and Health at the Italian Swiss University of Lugano (USI), as well as at the Professional University School of Italian Switzerland (SUPSI). Manconi's research focuses on sleep disorders, specifically sleep-related movement disorders like RLS and PLMS, and he currently serves on the scientific board of the European Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group (EURLSSG). At the RLS Foundation, Manconi is an active member of the Medical Bulletin Committee


Emmanuel J. Mignot, MD, PhD

Stanford University School of Medicine; Stanford, CA

Mignot is a professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences as Stanford University, and serves as director of the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine. He is credited with discovering the cause of narcolepsy. Mignot's research focuses on neurobiology, genetics and immunology of narcolepsy. He is also interested in the neuroimmunology of other brain disorders, and the web-based assessments of sleep disorders, computer-based processing of polysomnography and outcomes research. At the RLS Foundation, Mignot currently serves as a member of the Research Grant Committee.


William Ondo, MD

Houston Methodist Neurological Institute; Houston, TX

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.

kathy Richards

Kathy Richards, PhD, RN, FAAN

University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Richards is a research professor at The University of Texas at Austin, School of Nursing. As a UT Austin PhD graduate, Kathy has conducted sleep research in Alzheimer's disease for 20 years, and received over $25 million in NIH funding to support her research endeavors.

Her newest project is the NightRest project and the Behavioral Indicators Test for Restless Legs Syndrome in older adults. In partnership with Christine Kovach, PhD, RN, FAAN, a research professor in aging at the Jewish Home and Care Center at The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Richards received a $3.9 million five-year grant from the National Institute on Aging to improve the treatment of nighttime agitation in those with Alzheimer's disease. They hypothesize that RLS may be a cause for nighttime agitation and sleep disturbance in these individuals. This study marks the very first time that a new diagnostic tool will be used in research on nighttime agitation.


Denise Sharon, MD, PhD, FAASM

Pomona Valley Medical Center, Claremont, CA

Dr. Sharon works as an independent consultant out of the Sleep Disorders Adult and Children Center of the Pomona Valley Medical Center in Claremont, CA.

Throughout her education, training and work, Dr. Sharon has amassed research experience including, but not limited to, work as a Research Associate/Quantitative Electroencephalographer in the Laboratory of Psychoelectrophysiology, Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior through MCG. Her research has been published in numerous journals, as well as industry supported pieces on Restless Legs Syndrome for Pfizer, Xenoport, Luitpold, and more.

Dr. Sharon has been involved in multiple committees for the American Association of Sleep Medicine (AASM), such as the Center Accreditation, Fellowship Accreditation, Nosology Committees and Movement Disorders Section (vice-chair). She is a member of the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study group and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Task Force on the update of the treatment of RLS and PLMD; just another way in which she is helping those with RLS.


Michael H. Silber, MBChB

Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

Silber is a board certified neurologist and sleep specialist and serves as Director of the Mayo Clinic RLS Foundation Certified Quality Care Center and Dean, Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences.

At the RLS Foundation, Silber is current chair of the Opiates Committee. With a particular focus in neurology, Silber's areas of research include:

  • Relationship of REM sleep behavior disorder to neurodegenerative diseases
  • Drug management and predisposing factors related to restless legs syndrome
  • Epidemiology and pathogenesis of narcolepsy with special reference to the hypocretin system

Lynn Marie Trotti, MD, MSc

Emory Sleep Center; Atlanta, GA

Dr. Trotti is an Associate Professor of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine and Director of the RLS Foundation certified Quality Care Center at the Emory Sleep Center. She is board-certified in neurology (since 2008) and sleep medicine (since 2009). In addition to her clinical and research interests in RLS, Dr. Trotti’s work focuses on the central disorders of hypersomnolence and the overlap between sleep and movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Clinically, she treats patients with the full range of sleep disorders. She currently writes the “In the News” column for the RLS Foundation’s news magazine, NightWalkers, and serves as an active member of the Foundation's Quality Care Certification and Medical Bulletin committees.


George Uhl, MD, PhD

New Mexico VA Healthcare System; Albuquerque, NM

Board certified in neurology -- with a PhD in neuropharmacology and with substantial contributions to clinical trials, human genetics, mouse genetics, neuropharmacology and in vitro studies -- Uhl now manages a research program based at the New Mexico VA Healthcare System and his own laboratory and translational/clinical research. He has long studied the mu opiate receptor, at which several RLS drugs work, and the RLS gene PTPRD, for which he has discovered novel ligands. Dr Uhl also has experience in addiction and Parkinson’s disease. Uhl's major research interests include:

- Translational studies of complex genetics of RLS and other brain disorders
- Mechanisms of RLS, addictions and Parkinson’s disease
- Discovery of novel therapeutic approaches to RLS, addictions and Parkinsons disease

At the Foundation, Uhl is a member of the Research Grant Committee.


Arthur S. Walters, MD

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; Nashville, TN

Walters works at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where he is the director at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, an RLS Foundation Quality Care Center. Throughout his career, Walters has focused his research on sleep-related movement disorders. From 1992-1998, he helped found and served as the first chair of the Foundation's Medical Advisory Board, and continues to serve on the Foundation's combined Scientific and Medical Advisory Board. Additionally, as the founder and first chair of the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group, Walters helped establish the universal clinical criteria for the diagnosis of RLS. Walters has played an integral role in the history of the Foundation. Walters was a key player in establishing and validating the first scale to be used for the measurement of RLS severity, a scale that is now the most widely used for measuring RLS severity in both academic and industry sponsored studies. Walters is currently serving as chair of both the Foundation's Pediatrics and Quality Care Certification Committees, and is also a member of the Opiates Committee.


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 an active member of the Opiates Committee on the Scientific and Medical Advisory Board.