University of Pennsylvania

In 1991, the Center for Sleep & Respiratory Neurobiology, later renamed the Center for Sleep & Circadian Neurobiology was created to bring together faculty from different basic science departments including Neuroscience, Genetics, and Pharmacology as well as clinical departments such as Medicine, Neurology, Psychiatry, and Pediatrics. The Center draws faculty from the School of Nursing, School of Veterinary Medicine, and the School of Arts and Sciences.  In addition to leading and advancing sleep and circadian rhythm research, training and mentoring the next generation of investigators is a top priority.


Richard Schwab, MD

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.