CSCN Mission Statement

Sleep is inherently an interdisciplinary field of study. Research activities involve faculty from different basic science departments including Neuroscience, Genetics, and Pharmacology.

Faculty in clinical departments are performing research as well, including Medicine, Neurology, Psychiatry, and Pediatrics. Faculty from other schools are also involved: School of Nursing, School of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Arts and Sciences. Clinical sleep medicine also requires individuals from different backgrounds. Physicians in pulmonary medicine, neurology, psychiatry, otorhinolaryngology, pediatrics, and maxillofacial surgery all treat patients with sleep disorders. Recognizing this, the University of Pennsylvania established the first medical school-wide sleep center in 1991 — the Center for Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology, later renamed the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology due to the key role circadian biology plays in sleep-wake regulation.

The goals of the Center are:

To develop and support programs of excellence in sleep research in different departments in the School of Medicine and in other schools. We facilitate this by provision of core resources for sleep research thereby removing barriers for faculty new to this discipline to get involved.

  • To develop a pipeline of new outstanding investigators in this still emerging discipline. To facilitate this, the Center administers two T32 grants and a K12 award. The Center has robust programs for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
  • To provide a mechanism to create a community of scholars and state of the art didactics in this discipline. This is facilitated by events such the seminar series and an annual research retreat.
  • To provide a bridge to the clinical program in sleep medicine by facilitating cutting-edge translational and clinical research as well as comparative effectiveness research.

This vision has been, and continues to be, very successful. This model has been replicated by others. In the 2006 Institute of Medicine report "Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem," the committee recommended that this comprehensive center model for sleep be implemented in all major academic centers. The committee acknowledged that at that time only two existed — Penn and Harvard. They found that the Penn model was successful with the most NIH grants in sleep research. This 2006 IOM report has been influential and since then a number of other schools have adopted this model including Emory, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Stanford and Wisconsin. The model is being adopted internationally as well — Sydney, Australia; Taipei, Taiwan; and Berlin, Germany. Center leadership is on the advisory groups for these international programs and continues to promote and support the Sleep discipline around the world.

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