Education Programs in Sleep Medicine

Penn Sleep Joins Other Institutions to Develop Unique Training Program in Sleep Research

Three institutions, with the facilitation and administration of the University of Pennsylvania, are accepting applications for a specialized training program in sleep research.  The goal of this national effort is to develop a cadre of new investigators in genetic/genomic approaches to sleep and its disorders. These institutions – Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University and the University of Michigan – will equally contribute to the education of trainees through a specifically designed core curriculum, developed and agreed on by experts in the field. Applicants will apply to the school of their choice. In addition, three other institutions that currently hold training grants for sleep education – Harvard, Penn and the University of Pittsburgh – will participate in developing the curriculum for the program. Expertise not available at a one site can be accessed through other participating sites. The program provides a mechanism for ongoing feedback from experts at all sites, exposing fellows to a range of interdisciplinary research, clinical, and career development perspectives. Finally, fellows have more opportunities to network, find mentors ideally targeted to their scientific interests and long-term career plans, and to collaborate with peers, all of which are integral to effective career development.

Postdoctoral students will apply to attend one of the participating locations in either Baltimore, MD (Johns Hopkins), Palo Alto, CA (Stanford), or Ann Arbor, MI (University of Michigan). The 2-3 year program will allow each trainee to undergo the same training using new video-based technology. The core curriculum will involve the following: lectures on genetics/genomics of sleep and its disorders by faculty at all participating institutions; career development; grants workshop; journal club; and research-in-progress talks by trainees. Each trainee will have co-mentors at the institution to which they are accepted – one expert in sleep research and one in genetics/genomics. Trainees will also form mentorship committees that can include any sleep expert from another institution.

Sleep is an area where there are substantial opportunities for new science in the field of genetic/genomic approaches needed to develop personalized sleep medicine. Many sleep disorders are heritable, although the gene variants that confer risk are largely unknown. This unique program will provide a pipeline of scientists to explore these new paths.

Program Faculty



The University of Pennsylvania offers ACGME-accredited sleep fellowship training in all aspects of Sleep Medicine in a multidisciplinary format. Qualified applicants are expected to complete a one year clinical sleep medicine fellowship followed by two to three years, if desired, of a postdoctoral research fellowship. The program is committed to preparing trainees for an academic career in sleep medicine. The training program is accredited by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education, and fellows are eligible for board certification by the end of their initial (clinical) year. It is a joint adult/pediatric program with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Thus training is provided in both adult and pediatric sleep disorders.

The priorities of the sleep fellowship training program are:

  • To prepare physicians with the clinical training that will allow them to become outstanding board-certified specialists in sleep disorders medicine.
  • To provide physicians with the sleep-related research training needed to pursue careers in academic medicine as independent investigators.

Applicant requirements

Applicants to the sleep fellowship-training program are required to have completed a residency in internal medicine, neurology, otolaryngology, pediatrics, psychiatry, or family medicine. Individuals with subspecialty training such as pulmonary medicine are encouraged to apply. The Sleep Division is located within the Department of Medicine and has fourteen full-time faculty members. Despite its location within the Department of Medicine, the Sleep Division boasts a multidisciplinary faculty with neurologists, internists and pulmonologists in its midst. The clinical and research sleep laboratories and affiliated clinical programs at three adjacent hospitals - Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia VAMC - evaluate patients with a full range of sleep disorders. Given the multidisciplinary structure of the program, the fellowship curriculum is tailored to allow each trainee to concentrate on a particular area of specialization, e.g. pediatric or adult sleep medicine, through established tracks.

Under ACGME guidelines, each fellow is required to complete a Core Curriculum that meets the minimum requirements for clinical training in both adult and pediatric sleep medicine while allowing flexibility to concentrate further in a particular area of interest.

For pediatric track trainees, this will require:

  • Outpatient pediatric sleep medicine experiences  at CHOP
  • Outpatient adult sleep medicine experiences spread over the UPHS and Philadelphia VAMC sites
  • Continuity Practice experiences in both adult and pediatric sleep medicine
  • Review of polysomnography and other sleep-related diagnostic studies
  • Additional electives to allow for a concentrated experience in sleep disorders in children

For adult track trainees, this will require:

  • Outpatient adult sleep medicine experiences spread over the UPHS and Philadelphia VAMC sites
  • Outpatient pediatric sleep medicine experiences  at CHOP
  • Continuity Practice experience in adult sleep medicine*
  • Review of polysomnography and other sleep-related diagnostic studies
  • Elective time to allow for a concentrated experience in sleep disorders in adult

*Adult track trainees can also request an optional second continuity practice experience in pediatric sleep medicine

The University of Pennsylvania Sleep Medicine Fellowship Program participates in the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP). Applications will ONLY be accepted through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). Please check the ERAS and NRMP websites for additional information including specific instructions and timelines for applications and match dates, respectively.

Additional documents required for application include:

  1. Curriculum Vitae
  2. Personal Statement
  3. Three Letters of Recommendation (one must be from the applicant's most recent Program Director)
  4. USMLE Transcript
  5. Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) or Dean's Letter
  6. Medical School Transcript
  7. ECFMG Status Report, if applicable



The Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology serves as the research arm of the training program. Its 43 faculty members are drawn from clinical departments as well basic science departments, including Genetics and Neuroscience. Each fellow who elects to pursue formal research training forms a mentorship committee that provides advice and guidance during the training process.

The research fellowship program has four distinct research tracks:

  1. Basic Science
  2. Patient-Oriented Research
  3. Clinical Epidemiology, including clinical trials/outcomes research (includes a track in genetic epidemiology)
  4. Translational Research

Basic Science Track
In this track, fellows work primarily with one or two co-mentors on a specific research project in one of the following areas:

  1. Molecular Basis of the Circadian Clock
  2. Basis of Sleepiness/Performance Deficits in Humans
  3. Neurobiology of Sleep Apnea
  4. Molecular Mechanisms of Sleepiness, Sleep Promotion and Effects of Sleep
  5. Systems Neurobiology of Sleep
  6. Changes in Sleep Promoting Mechanisms with Age
  7. Functional Genomics of Sleep
  8. Genetics of Sleep

Patient-Oriented Research
We have a large program of patient-oriented research. This involves a number of different investigators. Opportunities for patient-oriented research are available in the following areas:

  1. outcomes research
  2. health care delivery research
  3. behavioral sleep medicine
  4. upper airway and neuroimaging
  5. genetics of sleep and its disorders
  6. pathogenesis of obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia
  7. clinical trials
  8. post-traumatic stress disorder

Specific disorders being studied include obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, insufficient sleep syndrome, and shift-work sleep disorders. For more information, contact Dr. Allan Pack.

Clinical Epidemiology Track
Fellows with an interest in clinical research have the opportunity to obtain a Masters in Clinical Epidemiology as a part of their sleep research fellowship training. This initially involves intensive course work followed by the development of a research project leading to a NIH K23 grant application. During this time, the trainees also acquire their clinical training in sleep medicine. Areas of focus are the following:

  1. outcomes research
  2. health care delivery research
  3. clinical trials
  4. genetic epidemiology

Translational Research Track
Fellows with an interest in translational research can now pursue a Master’s in Translational Research. This involves some didactic course work and laboratory rotations in, for example, bioinformatics, expression profiling, proteomics, and high throughput genotyping. The individual can apply this translational approach to one of the areas outlined above under Patient-Oriented Research.

Information about Philadelphia



Sleep Medicine

A graduate program for training in sleep research is administered by the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology (CSCN). Faculty involved in this program are from different departments in the School of Medicine including Anesthesia, Medicine, Neurology, Neuroscience, and Psychiatry; in the Schools of Arts and Sciences (Department of Biology) and in the School of Veterinary Medicine. See Research Laboratories.

The program offers training in systems neurobiological approaches, molecular/genetic approaches, use of model systems (Drosophila, C. elegans), and in behavioral, genetic, and neuroimaging studies in humans.

Individuals doing graduate training can be PhD students, MD/PhD students or VMD/PhD students. We have a specific MD/PhD program for sleep research.


The aim of this program is to advance the training of nurse scientists in the area of sleep research. In addition to receiving training in sleep medicine and circadian rhythms, trainees will also select from one of three areas of concentration: outcomes research in sleep disorders, sleep and aging, and sleep in medical and psychiatric Illness. The curriculum is designed to broaden the trainees knowledge of sleep and to enable them to apply this knowledge in one of the three areas of concentration. Moreover, the course work was also selected to enhance the skills of the trainees in statistics. Depending on their research focus, trainees can also take additional courses to meet individual needs. Trainees will participate in scientific discussions, seminars, journal clubs and oral presentations of scientific work.


The Penn Sleep Center, in collaboration with the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program in the Department of Psychiatry, offers a variety of training experiences. Our clinical program is fully integrated into the division of Sleep Medicine and is guided by a core belief in the importance of integrating psychological and behavioral approaches into the prevention and management of sleep disorders. In order to increase training opportunities in the burgeoning field of behavioral sleep medicine (BSM), we have put together a training program that emphasizes these aspects of sleep medicine. The program is one of only five BSM training programs currently accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). It is primarily designed for psychologists-in-training, although we are open to individuals from other fields, such as medicine and nursing, who would like to complete this training. Individuals can participate in the training program at various levels of training/practice:

  • Doctoral students can obtain BSM training as either a clinical
    practicum or as part of the predoctoral internship at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
  • A two-year postdoctoral fellowship is available that combines
    clinical and research training in BSM.

The clinical component of the fellowship program has a primary emphasis on Behavioral Sleep Medicine Interventions and specialized expertise in cognitive behavioral treatment of insomnia. Rotations are available at CHOP, Penn and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. The research component of fellowship program uses an apprenticeship model to help the fellows in our program transition from being early career investigators to independent researchers.

Finally, please know that our BSM program is unique in that it: is one of the first five accredited BSM training centers in the United States; has all 3 core components that are traditional to the academic mission (Education, Research, and Clinical care); spans the entirety of the educational enterprise with training opportunities for graduate students, interns, residents, fellows, and established professionals (via continuing education seminars and webinars); offers clinical training for both pediatric (at CHOP) and adult Behavioral Sleep Medicine BSM (at Penn). For more information about the BSM programs at Penn, please visit our web site at or contact Michael Perlis (Program Director) or Phil Gehrman (Program Assistant Director).



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