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An afternoon with bedheads and Deadheads

Yes, it might seem like sleep researcher William Dement, MD, PhD, and the late Jerry Garcia would make very strange bedfellows. But, that wasn’t the case at a Stanford event on Saturday. There, they blended together - albeit, in a circular way - like a sweet dream in a deep sleep.

More than 60 people with a variety of ties to the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Center came together at the Jerry House (yes, that Jerry) for the unveiling of a long-awaited plaque discussed earlier today. I was one of the people there to honor the Stanford "sleep camps" held there in the 1970s and '80s.

A wide variety of those involved with the camps showed up at the event to revisit their pasts and talk about their presents. It was a fun, wacky reunion, bringing together 10 years worth of researchers and researchees. Some flew in from distant ports, and their entrances generated hugs and squeals and hearty handshakes. There was a coterie of “campers,” some the progeny of professors and staff, who happily dispensed memories and swapped tales. There were full-fledged doctors who, as undergrads, acted as “sleep counselors.” And there were sleep-research luminaries who were, back then, just getting the sleep-research field powered up.

The plaque, which was concealed under a very '60s tie-died cloth, was unveiled, and the researchers who led the work at the camps spoke, acknowledging the importance of the research and expressing gratitude to all involved. The remarks of Mary Carskadon, PhD, expanded into a very detailed string of stories - a decade of escapades involving rambunctious kids, stealthy undergrads, and 24-hour-a-day volleyball tournaments.

There was an abundance of delicious food, a terrific Sancerre, a quantity of beer and an enormous, mega-cake with a stunning replica of the plaque laid out in the frosting. It was the perfect fuel for dancing on a sunny, spring-like afternoon, so when the Grateful Dead-inspired band let loose, people were ready. The air was charged, and the past quickly became the present. Gauging by the expressions on many faces, I don't think I was the only one transported back to college days!

Previously: Thanks, Jerry: Honoring pioneering Stanford sleep research
Photo of Dement by Robert Tognoli

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