Susan Malone headshot

Susan Malone


Senior Research Scientist

1 212 992 7047

433 First Avenue
Room 412
New York, NY 10010
United States

expand all

collapse all

Professional overview

The overarching goal of Dr. Malone’s career is to promote health and prevent cardio-metabolic disease across the lifespan. This goal has been motivated by Dr. Malone’s diverse clinical experiences, including school nursing and outpatient diabetes education. Dr. Malone’s research focuses on bridging research in behavioral, biological, and environmental rhythms to chronotherapeutic interventions that mitigate type 2 diabetes risk and improve overall health. She has studied the relationship between several dimensions of sleep (duration, timing, chronotype, regularity), health behaviors, and body mass index in adolescents. She has also conducted several population based studies examining relationships between these dimensions of sleep and chronic disease in adults, as well as sleep disparities across ethno-racial groups. She is interested in understanding what factors make some people vulnerable and others resilient to sleep loss and disrupted circadian rhythms.


Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania
PhD, University of Pennsylvania
MSN, University of Pennsylvania
BSN, Georgetown University

Honors and awards

Marion R. Gregory Award for distinguished completed doctoral dissertation, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (2015)
Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar Award, The Rockefeller University (2014)
National Association of School Nurses Annual Conference research poster winner: Intraabdominal adipose tissue and cardio-metabolic disease risk in children and adolescents (2013)
Leadership Identification Scholarship, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (1985)
“Susan Kohl Award”. This award is given annually to a member of the Georgetown University Women’s Swim Team who demonstrates hard work, leadership, and dedication to team efforts.


Community/population health

Professional membership

Society for Research in Biological Rhythms
American Academy of Nursing
Eastern Nursing Research Society
Sleep Research Society
National Association of School Nurses
Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society



Applying behavioral insights to delay school start times

Malone, S., Ziporyn, T., & Buttenheim, A. M. (2017). Sleep Health, 3(6), 483-485. 10.1016/j.sleh.2017.07.012
Healthy People 2020 established a national objective to increase the proportion of 9th-to-12th-grade students reporting sufficient sleep. A salient approach for achieving this objective is to delay middle and high school start times. Despite decades of research supporting the benefits of delayed school start times on adolescent sleep, health, and well-being, progress has been slow. Accelerating progress will require new approaches incorporating strategies that influence how school policy decisions are made. In this commentary, we introduce four strategies that influence decision-making processes and demonstrate how they can be applied to efforts aimed at changing school start time policies.

Differences in morning–evening type and sleep duration between Black and White adults: Results from a propensity-matched UK Biobank sample

Malone, S., Patterson, F., Lozano, A., & Hanlon, A. (2017). Chronobiology International, 34(6), 740-752. 10.1080/07420528.2017.1317639
Biological evidence suggests that ethno-racial differences in morning–evening type are possible, whereby Blacks may be more likely to be morning type compared to Whites. However, population-level evidence of ethno-racial difference in morning–evening type is limited. In an earlier study, we reported that morning type was more prevalent in Blacks compared to Whites in the United Kingdom (UK) Biobank cohort (N = 439 933). This study aimed to determine if these ethno-racial differences persisted after accounting for an even broader range of social, environmental and individual characteristics and employing an analytic approach that simulates randomization in observational data, propensity score modeling. Data from UK Biobank participants whose self-identified race/ethnicity was Black/Black British or White; who did not report daytime napping, shift work or night shift work; who provided full mental health information; and who were identified using propensity score matching were used (N = 2044). Each sample was strongly matched across all social, environmental and individual characteristics as indicated by absolute standardized mean differences <0.09 for all variables. The prevalence of reporting nocturnal short, adequate and long sleep as well as morning, intermediate and evening type among Blacks (n = 1022) was compared with a matched sample of Whites (n = 1022) using multinomial logistic regression models. Blacks had a 62% greater odds of being morning type [odds ratio (OR) = 1.620, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.336–1.964, p <.0001] and a more than threefold greater odds of reporting nocturnal short sleep (OR = 3.453, 95% CI: 2.846–4.190, p <.0001) than Whites. These data indicate that the greater prevalence of morning type and short nocturnal sleep in Blacks compared to Whites is not fully explained by a wide range of social and environmental factors. If sleep is an upstream determinant of health, these data suggest that ethno-racially targeted public health sleep intervention strategies are needed.

Ethnic differences in sleep duration and morning-evening type in a population sample

Malone, S., Patterson, F., Lu, Y., Lozano, A., & Hanlon, A. (2016). Chronobiology International, 33(1), 10-21. 10.3109/07420528.2015.1107729
This cross-sectional population study examined associations of sleep duration and morning-evening type with sociodemographic and cardiometabolic disease in adults participating in the UK Biobank study (N = 439 933). Multivariable Poisson regression models of sleep duration and morning-evening type with a robust error variance were generated to estimate adjusted prevalence ratios and their 95% confidence intervals. All models were adjusted for sex, race, college attendance, employment status and age. Twenty five percent of the sample reported short sleep; 27% were morning, 64% intermediate and 9% evening type. Black ethnicity emerged as most strongly associated with sleep behavior. Short sleep was twice as prevalent, and morning versus intermediate type was 1.4 times more prevalent in Black than White participants. The greater prevalence of short sleep and morning type among Blacks suggests that sleep-based approaches to improving cardiometabolic outcomes may require a more multidimensional approach that encompasses adequate sleep and circadian alignment in this population.

Smoking, Screen-Based Sedentary Behavior, and Diet Associated with Habitual Sleep Duration and Chronotype: Data from the UK Biobank

Patterson, F., Malone, S., Lozano, A., Grandner, M. A., & Hanlon, A. L. (2016). Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 50(5), 715-726. 10.1007/s12160-016-9797-5
Background: Sleep duration has been implicated in the etiology of obesity but less is known about the association between sleep and other behavioral risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Purpose: The aim of this study was to examine the associations among sleep duration, chronotype, and physical activity, screen-based sedentary behavior, tobacco use, and dietary intake. Methods: Regression models were used to examine sleep duration and chronotype as the predictors and cardiovascular risk factors as outcomes of interest in a cross-sectional sample of 439,933 adults enrolled in the UK Biobank project. Results: Short sleepers were 45 % more likely to smoke tobacco than adequate sleepers (9.8 vs. 6.9 %, respectively). Late chronotypes were more than twice as likely to smoke tobacco than intermediate types (14.9 vs. 7.4 %, respectively). Long sleepers reported 0.61 more hours of television per day than adequate sleepers. Early chronotypes reported 0.20 fewer daily hours of computer use per day than intermediate chronotypes. Early chronotypes had 0.25 more servings of fruit and 0.13 more servings of vegetables per day than late chronotypes. Conclusions: Short and long sleep duration and late chronotype are associated with greater likelihood of cardiovascular risk behaviors. Further work is needed to determine whether these findings are maintained in the context of objective sleep and circadian estimates, and in more diverse samples. The extent to which promoting adequate sleep duration and earlier sleep timing improves heart health should also be examined prospectively.

Social jet lag, chronotype and body mass index in 14–17-year-old adolescents

Malone, S., Zemel, B., Compher, C., Souders, M., Chittams, J., Thompson, A. L., Pack, A., & Lipman, T. H. (2016). Chronobiology International, 33(9), 1255-1266. 10.1080/07420528.2016.1196697
The relationship between sleep duration and obesity in adolescents is inconclusive. This may stem from a more complex relationship between sleep and obesity than previously considered. Shifts toward evening preferences, later sleep–wake times and irregular sleep–wake patterns are typical during adolescence but their relationship to body mass index (BMI) has been relatively unexplored. This cross-sectional study examined associations between sleep duration, midpoint of sleep and social jet lag (estimated from 7 days of continuous actigraphy monitoring), and morningness/eveningness with BMIs (BMI z-scores) and waist-to-height ratios in 14–17-year-old adolescents. Seventy participants were recruited from ninth and tenth grades at a public high school. Participants’ characteristics were as follows: 74% female, 75% post-pubertal, 36% Hispanic, 38% White, 22% Black, 4% Asian and 64% free/reduced lunch participants with a mean age of 15.5 (SD, 0.7). Forty-one percent of the participants were obese (BMI ≥ 95th percentile); 54% were abdominally obese (waist-to-height ratio ≥ 0.5). Multivariable general linear models were used to estimate the association between the independent variables (school night sleep duration, free night sleep duration, midpoint of sleep (corrected), social jet lag and morningness/eveningness) and the dependent variables (BMI z-scores and waist-to-height ratios). Social jet lag is positively associated with BMI z-scores (p < 0.01) and waist-to-height ratios (p = 0.01). Midpoint of sleep (corrected) is positively associated with waist-to-height ratios (p = 0.01). After adjusting for social jet lag, school night sleep duration was not associated with waist-to-height ratios or BMI z-scores. Morningness/eveningness did not moderate the association between sleep duration and BMI z-scores. Findings from this study suggest that chronobiological approaches to preventing and treating obesity may be important for accelerating progress in reducing obesity rates in adolescents.

Measurement and Interpretation of Body Mass Index During Childhood and Adolescence

Malone, S., & Zemel, B. S. (2015). Journal of School Nursing, 31(4), 261-271. 10.1177/1059840514548801
The landscape of childhood health and disease has changed over the past century, and school nurses are now in a unique position to address the conditions that lead to chronic disease, such as obesity. Measuring body mass index (BMI) during childhood and adolescence is the recommended method for screening and/or monitoring obesity in school communities. Yet changes in the size, proportion, and distribution of fat mass and fat-free mass during growth and development introduce challenges to interpreting BMI measurements. Understanding these challenges and ensuring accurate measurement techniques are the foundation for implementing school-based BMI measurement programs. This article will provide an overview of body composition during childhood and adolescence, introduce strategies to improve the accuracy of BMI measurements, and explore the school nurse’s role in BMI surveillance and/or screening activities.

The significance of abdominal obesity in youth

Malone, S., & Lipman, T. H. (2014). Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 29(5), 489-490. 10.1016/j.pedn.2014.06.005

School nurses save lives: Can we provide the data?

Malone, S., & Bergren, D. B. (2010). Journal of School Nursing, 26(5), 344-351. 10.1177/1059840510376384
Vigilance has been central to nursing practice since Florence Nightingale. Often, the nurse's work of surveillance goes unnoticed and the public never recognizes the value of the nurse's work. The 1999 Institute of Medicine report on hospital deaths due to preventable errors has lifted the veil shrouding professional vigilance. But how to measure vigilance remained elusive, until the concept, failure to rescue (FTR), was proposed. FTR has taken a prominent role in health care since its adoption as a patient safety indicator by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and as a measure for nursing performance in acute care by the National Quality Forum (NQF). However, its applicability to school nursing has been unexplored. This article provides an initial review of the literature and an analysis of anecdotal stories and media accounts that illustrate professional vigilance in school nursing practice.