University of Pennsylvania

School of Veterinary Medicine
Laboratory of Neurochemical Mechanisms of REM Sleep and Sleep-Related Respiratory Disorders  

This site was originally designed by J. John Lee, Penn Class of 2001,
and then re-designed by
Xiao Han, Penn Class of 2010, in November, 2006.

Last updated: May 28, 2014.

Leszek Kubin, Ph.D.

Department of Animal Biology 209E/VET
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
3800 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6046
Tel.: 215-898-1893 (office), -6258 (lab)
Fax.: 215-573-5186


Research Professor of Physiology in the Department of Animal Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine and Pulmonary and Critical Care Division, School of Medicine (brief CV-PDF).


1976 M.S. (Biomedical Engineering) Warsaw Technical University
1982 Ph.D. (Physiology) University of Pisa
1983 Ph.D. (Physiology) Warsaw Medical School
1983-1985 Post-doctoral training University of Pennsylvania

Research programs and interests:

            We are interested in neural mechanisms of cardiorespiratory disorders during sleep and neurophysiological and neurochemical mechanisms of the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep.

            Hypoventilations and obstructive sleep apneas occur most frequently and are most severe during REM sleep. They occur in individuals with anatomically predisposed airway and are caused by state-dependent hypotonia of upper airway muscles. Multiple nocturnal sleep episodes disrupt sleep, cause daytime hypersomnolence, and are associated with a host of cardiovascular and metabolic consequences.  The REM sleep-related decrements in the activity of upper airway muscles are caused by distinct neurochemical changes occurring in the brainstem.  Such changes include a loss of excitation that, during wakefulness, is transmitted by norepinephrine and serotonin receptors to motor neurons that innervate upper airway muscles.

            Our current research, conducted using rodent models, is focused on: 

  • Neuropharmacological mechanisms of state-dependent control of upper airway muscles;
  • Neurochemistry and functions of central neurons and pathways responsible for the generation of REM sleep;
  • The role of hypothalamic GABAergic mechanisms in mediation of the brain's "sleepiness signal";
  • Metabolic consequences of chronic exposure to intermittent hypoxia.

Click here for an overview of our research.

Click here to see our recent publications.

Our studies are supported by grants from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.  Other laboratories at the University of Pennsylvania study related questions, such as the homeostatic regulation of sleep in mammalian and non-mammalian species, regulation of circadian rhythms, and clinical aspects of the sleep apnea syndrome.  Collaborative efforts among these labs are facilitated through the Penn's Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology.  For a sampler of sleep and circadian rhythm-related research at Penn, see the 2001 edition of "Sleep Abstracts at Penn (SAP)".

Key words: Brainstem; Acetylcholine; Control of breathing; Diabetes; EEG; Gene expression; Hypothalamus; Motor control; Neuroanatomy; Neurophysiology; Norepinephrine; Physiology; REM sleep; Respiratory neurons; Serotonin; Single-cell RT-PCR; Sleep; Sleep deprivation. 

Current research team (2013-2014):

Our group with the former member of our lab, Dr. Georg Stettner (right) and his wife, Dr. Christina Stettner (left) who visited us in the spring, 2014. In the middle, from left: Denys Volgin, Ph.D.Kate Benincasa-Herr, M.S.Graziella L. Mann; Leszek Kubin, Ph.D.