Richard J. Schwab, MD

faculty photo
Professor of Medicine (Sleep Medicine) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Division Chief, Division of Sleep Medicine
Department: Medicine

Contact information
University of Pennsylvania Medical Center
3624 Market Street, Suite 205
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: (215) 662-7772
Fax: (215) 615-3671
Haverford College, 1979.
M.D. (Medicine)
University of Pennsylvania, 1983.
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Description of Research Expertise

Dr. Schwab’s research has focused on the pathogenesis of obstructive sleep apnea utilizing novel upper airway imaging techniques. His studies help elucidate the role of the motion of key structures of the upper airway in mediating airway closure. By examining dynamic state-related changes in the upper airway and soft tissue structures surrounding the upper airway he has begun to understand the biomechanics of apneic events. He has studied patients with both magnetic resonance imaging and electronic beam computed tomography during wakefulness and sleep. Several novel findings have resulted from these studies: 1) the anatomic significance of the lateral pharyngeal walls in mediating airway caliber in normals and apneics; and 2) the characterization of the changes in upper airway caliber during the respiratory cycle and the importance of end-expiratory airway narrowing. Dr. Schwab collaborates closely with members of the Departments of Radiology and Biomechanical and Computer Engineering. They have developed state-of-the-art, computer graphics-based analysis software to help model in three dimensions the biomechanical interrelationships between the soft tissue structures and the upper airway.

Selected Publications

Thuler ER, Parekh MH, Rodin JG, Seay EG, Wiemken A, Keenan BT, Schwab RJ, Schwartz AR, Dedhia RC: Association Between Soft Tissue Measures From Computed Tomography and Upper Airway Collapsibility on Drug-Induced Sleep Endoscopy. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg Apr 2024.

Xu J, Wiemken A, Langham MC, Rao H, Nabbout M, Caporale AS, Schwab RJ, Detre JA, Wehrli FW: Sleep-stage-dependent alterations in cerebral oxygen metabolism quantified by magnetic resonance. J Neurosci Res Mar 2024.

Malhotra A, Bednarik J, Chakladar S, Dunn JP, Weaver T, Grunstein R, Fietze I, Redline S, Azarbarzin A, Sands SA, Schwab RJ, Bunck MC: Tirzepatide for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea: Rationale, design, and sample baseline characteristics of the SURMOUNT -OSA phase 3 trial. Contemp Clin Trials Mar 2024.

Schwab RJ, Lin TC, Wiemken A, Dedhia RC, Wehrli FW, Keenan BT: State-Dependent Biomechanical Behavior of Oropharyngeal Structures in Apneics and Controls: A Proof-of-Concept Study. Ann Am Thorac Soc Mar 2024.

Vidigal TA, Haddad FL, Guimaraes TM, Silva LO, Andersen ML, Schwab R, Cistulli PA, Pack AI, Tufik S, Bittencourt LR: Can Intraoral and Facial Photos Predict Obstructive Sleep Apnea In The General and Clinical Population? Sleep December 2023.

Nance RM, Fohner AE, McClelland RL, Redline S, Bryan RN, Fitzpatrick A, Habes M, Longstreth Jr WT, Schwab RJ, Wiemken AS, Heckbert SR: The association of upper airway anatomy with cognitive test performance: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. BMC Neurol Oct 2023.

Surya Panicker Rajeev MD, Carl Alexander Roberts PhD, Emily Brown MBChB, Victoria S. Sprung PhD, Jo A. Harrold PhD, Jason C. G. Halford PhD, Andrej Stancak PhD, Emma J. Boyland PhD, Graham J. Kemp PhD, Julie Perry, Elaine Howarth MSc, Richard Jackson MSc, Andrew Wiemken MPH, Richard Schwab MD, Daniel J. Cuthbertson PhD, John P. H. Wilding FRCP: No evidence of compensatory changes in energy balance, despite reductions in body weight and liver fat, during dapagliflozin treatment in type 2 diabetes mellitus: A randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled, cross‐over trial (ENERGIZE). Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism Sept 2023.

Sutherland K, Kim S, Veatch OJ, Keenan BT, Bittencourt L, Chen NH et al: Facial and Intraoral Photographic Traits Related to Sleep Apnea in a Clinical Sample with Genetic Ancestry Analysis. Ann Am Thorac Soc June 2023.

Benjamin M. Smith, Andrew Wiemken, Eric A. Hoffman, Brendan T. Keenan, Norrina B. Allen, Alain G. Bertoni, David R. Jacobs Jr., Erin D. Michos, Karol E. Watson, Susan Redline, Richard J. Schwab, R. Graham Barr, Susan R. Heckbert: Upper and Lower Airway Dysanapsis and Airflow Obstruction among Older Adults. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 206, Oct 2022.

Pei-Hsin Wu, Ana E Rodriguez-Soto, Andrew Wiemken, Erin K Englund, Zachary B Rodgers, Michael C Langham, Richard J Schwab, John A Detre, Wensheng Guo, Felix W Wehrli: MRI evaluation of cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRO2) in obstructive sleep apnea. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab Jun 2022.

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Last updated: 05/14/2024
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