Department of Psychiatry

Penn Behavioral Health

Mission and Vision

The Unit for Experimental Psychiatry, under the direction of David F. Dinges, Ph.D., is an integrated group of scientific investigators, focused on achieving creative and practical solutions to problems involving human health and safety in relation to sleep need, sleep disorders, circadian rhythms, work demands, fatigue, and vulnerability to emotional disturbance, memory distortions, pain, and other sources of stress or discomfort.

Studies are conducted on both healthy individuals and patient populations for two primary purposes:

  • To identify the physical, behavioral, emotional and psychological effects of sleep disturbance, sleep deprivation, and circadian disruption brought about by life style, work schedules, diseases, medical treatments, and environmental and genetic factors; and 
  • To discover new ways to effectively prevent and treat neurobehavioral, neuroendocrine, neuroimmune and psychophysiological impairments from sleep loss, sleepiness, fatigue and related stressors, and their adverse effects on health, behavior, and safety, using novel behavioral, pharmacological, and technological countermeasures.

The offices of the faculty, staff and student trainees of the Unit for Experimental Psychiatry are located on the 10th floor of Blockley Hall in the School of Medicine. The Unit’s scientific experiments are undertaken in the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory, a satellite of the General Clinical Research Center in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, the Unit has research collaborations underway with investigators at other institutions. The research currently performed by the Unit is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Department of Homeland Security.

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