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Kathy Richards, PhD, RN, FAAN | Research Professor and Senior Research Scientist

Email Kathy Richards

Phone: 512 232-1131

Office: NUR 3.404
The University of Texas at Austin, School of Nursing
1710 Red River Street
Austin, TX 78712

Dr. Kathy C. Richards is a nationally renowned sleep and geriatrics researcher. Previously at George Mason University and the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), she was the director of the Center for Integrative Science in Aging. Prior to UPenn, Dr. Richards was at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Nursing, where she served as the Alice Sun Professor of Nursing and director of the NIH-funded Tailored Biobehavioral Interventions Research Center. Dr. Richards helped establish and was co-director of the John A. Hartford Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence. She also was the Associate Director for Health Services Research, Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical (GRECC) center at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System. 

Dr. Richards' experience in translational sleep and aging research spans more than 25 years. The focus of her research has been on improving sleep and delaying cognitive decline in older adults. She has shown in the recent MEMORIES 1 trial that treatment of obstructive sleep apnea significantly improves cognitive function and may delay neurodegeneration and progression of cognitive decline in persons with mild cognitive impairment.  She has conducted randomized controlled clinical trials of other interventions, such as exercise and individualized social activity programs, resulting in large, clinically significant improvements in sleep and other debilitating symptoms in institutionalized and hospitalized older adults. She has developed and validated measures, including a measure of sleep quality for use in critically ill older adults and a restless leg syndrome diagnostic tool for use in persons with cognitive impairment. Dr. Richards has conducted studies that have illuminated relationships between sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome, and behavioral symptoms, such as wandering, in community-dwelling older adults with cognitive impairment. Her program of research has has advanced the science regarding design of clinical trials to test the efficacy of tailored, patient-centered interventions. The results of her research are disseminated in more than 100 publications.

At UT Austin, she is a principal investigator on R01AG51588 “Nighttime Agitation and Restless Legs Syndrome in People with Dementia” (NIGHTREST) and R01AG054435 “Changing the Trajectory of Mild Cognitive Impairment with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure” (MEMORIES 2). Both projects are funded by the National Institute on Aging. Visit NightRest Study page for more information.

She is the recipient of outstanding alumni awards from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. 

She and her husband, John Thomas, have 5 children and 6 grandchildren. 

Dr. Richards received a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, a Master of Science degree in nursing from the University of Arizona, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in nursing from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.


  • PhD, University of Texas
  • MSN, University of Arizona
  • BSN and RNP, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences