Sleep and Circadian Biology at Penn: History

The first sleep-focused center at Penn, The Center for Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology (CSRN), was established in 1991 by Dr. William Kelley when he was Dean of the Medical School.  Under the leadership of Dr. Allan Pack, the CSRN became a model for an academic medical school-wide structure for sleep research in the USA, and was recommended in the IOM report in 2006.  The clinical multidisciplinary Division of Sleep Medicine was established in 2001 and, as with the CSRN, was the first such structure in any academic medical center in the nation or, indeed, in the world.  Faculty at Penn led the way in areas critical to the development of the sleep field:  introduction of new model systems for the study of sleep (Drosophila, C. elegans); research to inform public policy (medical residents, commercial drivers); new insights into the pathogenesis of obstructive sleep apnea; implementation research leading to new clinical models of care.  The CSRN also developed three of only seven T32 research training grants nationally in the sleep field, with one of these developed in collaboration with colleagues in the School of Nursing, the only training grant for nurse PhD investigators in this area. 

With the expansion of circadian biology in the early 2000s, the CSRN was renamed the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology (CSCN).  Subsequently, circadian research grew at Penn, not only in the neurosciences but also in the circadian regulation of other physiological systems and processes (e.g. metabolic, cardiovascular, cancer, immune).  Recognizing this as an area of strength, the Dean of Penn Medicine, Dr. Larry Jameson, established the Chronobiology Program in 2013 under the leadership of Dr. Amita Sehgal.  Subsequently, the CSCN and the Chronobiology Program worked together to drive research on circadian rhythms and sleep, increase educational opportunities in the area, and promote the careers of trainees, many of whom have launched independent programs.  In 2019, these two entities coalesced in the creation of the Chronobiology and Sleep Institute.


banner image of sleeping child animal insect

CSI Administration

Amita Sehgal, Ph.D.


John Herr Musser Professor of Neuroscience

Email: amita at pennmedicine dot upenn dot edu

David Raizen, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Director

Professor of Neurology

Email: raizen at pennmedicine dot upenn dot edu

Julie A. Williams, Ph.D.


Research Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience

Email: jwillia3 at pennmedicine dot upenn dot edu


Jennifer Hunter

Email: nhunter at pennmedicine dot upenn dot edu

Jacqueline Fowlkes

Email: jfowlkes at pennmedicine dot upenn dot edu