Michael W. Calik, PhD

  • Assistant Professor

The goal of my research is to investigate pharmacological treatments of sleep-related breathing disorders (e.g. obstructive sleep apnea [OSA]). I am a neuroscientist studying respiratory modulation during sleep.

My published results show that dronabinol, a cannabinoid, injected locally into the nodose ganglia (cell bodies of the vagus nerves containing cannabinoid receptors) attenuates reflex apnea and increases upper airway activity in rats; apnea attenuation, but not increases in upper airway activity, is blocked by systemic cannabinoid antagonism. Moreover, systemic administration of dronabinol in chronically instrumented conscious rats decreases apnea index, but also decreases time spent in REM sleep.

Combined with the human trials showing a decrease in OSA severity with dronabinol administration, and the results from my investigations of the a rat model of apnea, dronabinol has the potential of being the first drug approved for OSA treatment. However, cannabimimetic modulation of respiration needs clarification. It is my goal to investigate the cannabinoid dependent and independent receptor-mediated mechanisms of the peripheral and central nervous systems that augment state-dependent respiratory control. Moreover, I will study other pharmacological agents that can be used alone or in combination with cannabinoids to reduce apnea propensity.

I will study the neurophysiological, neurobiological, and neuropharmacological mechanisms of the respiratory circuitries (both peripherally and centrally) implicated in sleep-related breathing disorders.

Current Area of Teaching

Neuroscience; Pathophysiology


Student Opportunities

Co-localization of 5-HT3 and Cannabinoid Receptors on Rat Nodose Ganglion Cells (6 month project)
The goal of this study is to: a) elucidate the expression of serotonin and cannabinoid receptors within nodose ganglia; b) identify any co-localization of 5-HT and cannabinoid receptors; and c) determine the functional impact of receptor activation using real-time calcium (Ca2+) imaging.


Service / Practice
  • 2016- Member, Scientific Review Committee, Sleep Research Society
  • 2016- Early Career Policy Ambassador, Society for Neuroscience
  • 2015-2016 Chair, Chicago Brain Bee Committee, Society for Neuroscience Chicago Chapter
  • 2015-2016 Councilor, Executive Committee, Society for Neuroscience Chicago Chapter
  • 2014-2016 Website Management Committee, Society for Neuroscience Chicago Chapter
  • 2014-2015 Member, Trainee Education and Advisory Subcommittee, Sleep Research Society
  • 2013-2015 Postdoctoral Councilor - Executive Committee, Society for Neuroscience Chicago Chapter
  • 2013-2014 co-Chair, Diversity in Careers Committee, Society for Neuroscience Chicago Chapter
  • 2012-2014 Website Coordinator, Society for Neuroscience Chicago Chapter
Selected Honors & Awards
  • 2015 First Place - Postdoctoral Poster Competition - Chicago Chapter,Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting
  • 2014 American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s Young Investigator Research Forum
  • 2013 Sleep Research Society Merit Based Travel Award
  • 2009-2011 VA Pre-Doctoral Associated Health Rehabilitation Research Fellowship
Selected Publications

Calik, MW, Carley DW. Effects of Cannabinoid Agonists and Antagonists on Sleep and Breathing in Sprague-Dawley Rats. Sleep. 2017: 40 (9): zsx112.

Calik MW. Update on the treatment of narcolepsy: clinical efficacy of Pitolisant. Nature and Science of Sleep. 2017: Apr 26; 9:127-133 (PMID: 28490912).

Calik MW and Carley DW. Intracerebroventricular injections of dronabinol, a cannabinoid receptor agonist, does not attenuate serotonin-induced apnea in Sprague-Dawley rats. Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine. 2016: 15(1); 8 (PMID: 27133202).

Calik MW. Treatments for obstructive sleep apnea. Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management. 2016: 23(4); 181-92 (PMID: 27134515).

Calik MW and Carley DW. Cannabinoid Type 1 And Type 2 Receptor Antagonists Prevent Attenuation of Serotonin-induced Reflex Apneas by Dronabinol in Sprague-Dawley Rats. PLoS One. 2014: 9(10); e111412 (PMID: 25350456).

Weaver TE, Calik MW, Farabi SS, Fink AM, Galang-Boquiren MT, Kapella MK, Prasad B, and Carley DW. Innovative Treatments for Adults with Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Journal of Nature and Science of Sleep. 2014: 2014(6); 137-147 (PMID: 25429246).

Calik MW, Radulovacki M, and Carley DW. A Method of Nodose Ganglia Injection in Sprague-Dawley Rat. Journal of Visualized Experiments. 2014: 2014(93); e52233 (PMID: 25490160).

Calik MW, Radulovacki M, and Carley DW. Intranodose ganglion injections of dronabinol attenuate serotonin-induced apnea in Sprague-Dawley rat. Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology. 2014: 190(1); 20-24 (PMID: 24121138).

Calik MW, Shankarappa SA, Langert KA, and Stubbs, Jr. EB. Forced-Exercise Preconditioning Attenuates Experimental Autoimmune Neuritis by Altering Th1 Lymphocyte Composition and Egress. ASN Neuro. July-August 2015: 7(4); 1-11 (PMID: 26186926).

Calik MW, Shankarappa SA, and Stubbs, Jr. EB. Forced-exercise attenuates experimental autoimmune neuritis. Neurochemistry International. 2012: 61(2); 141–145 (PMID: 22569066).

Current Research

Receptor-dependent and Independent Modulation of Peripheral and Central Respiratory Neuronal Control During Sleep, UIC’s College of Nursing Internal Research Support Program

PiezoSleep to Measure Sleep in Rats: A Validation Study, UIC’s Center for Narcolepsy, Sleep, and Health Research Equipment Research Support Proposal

Past Research

Cannabimimetic Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Proof of Concept Trial, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, UM1HL112856 (postdoc)

Co-localization of 5-HT3 and Cannabinoid Receptors on Rat Nodose Ganglion Cells, Chicago Biomedical Consortium, CBC Postdoctoral Research Grant (psotdoc)