Dr. Sheldon Kapen, M.D., 77, of West Bloomfield, Michigan passed away on November 22, 2012. Dr. Kapen was a longtime member of the Wayne State University Department of Neurology and chief of Neurology at the John Dingell Veterans Administration Hospital in Detroit, Michigan for 25 years until his retirement in November 2011. Dr. Kapen started the first sleep lab in any VA facility in 1985 when he took over a new 2 bed unit in the old Detroit VAMC in Allen Park. When the Detroit VA Medical Center moved to Detroit and became the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center, Dr. Kapen was able to expand the clinic into a new 8 bed facility with state of the art equipment and more staff. Dr. Kapen's sleep medicine clinic and laboratory was the first VA sleep lab to be accredited, and approximately the 20th in the nation. He also had the first VA-based accredited fellowship program in 1989 (the 4th overall in the country) and it has also been reaccredited multiple times. A plaque was dedicated to him outside the lab in November 2011 as he retired from the VA after 30 years. The plaque which honors him at the VA hospital calls Dr. Kapen “A Physician, a teacher, a scientist, a leader, and a friend.”
“Sheldon Kapen was an important contributor to the academic and clinical missions of the Department of Neurology and the Veterans Administration hospital for many years,” said Robert Lisak, M.D., professor and former chair of Neurology. “He was a pioneer in the study and treatment of disorders of sleep. For that reason the sleep laboratory at the John Dingell VA Hospital was recently named in his honor. Shelly was a dedicated physician and a person of integrity. He will be missed.”
Dr. Kapen achieved many successes over the years. Among the grants he won, Dr. Kapen received a VA Research Grant to study stroke and sleep.
Dr. Kapen is survived by his wife, Rachel, and his children and grandchildren.
The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine thanks Dr. Kapen's wife, Rachel, for contributing to this obituary.