Sleep is among the most enduring mysteries in biology. Although we devote a third of our lives to sleep, sleep disorders are pervasive in modern societies, and sleep-like states are evolutionarily conserved, mechanisms that underlie this behavioral state remain poorly understood. We are taking a new approach to this old problem by using zebrafish to identify genetic and neuronal mechanisms that regulate sleep and wakefulness.

Lab Announcements

November 13, 2019 - Our collaboration with Richa Saxena's lab describing the role of EGFR signaling in zebrafish and human sleep has been published at Science Advances! See also the Caltech press release. Because EGFR signaling also regulates sleep in nematodes and flies, this work provides the strongest evidence to date that at least some mechanisms that regulate sleep were present in a common ancestor of invertebrates and vertebtrates.

August 27, 2019 - Our collaboration with Kathy Tamai, Tsuyoshi Hirota and Steve Kay describing a larval zebrafish screen for small molecules that affect circadian rhythms has been published at Scientific Reports! By screening using intact animals and a luminescent reporter of circadian oscillations, we identified novel pathways that affect circadian rhythms, especially those that affect circadian amplitude. 

August 8, 2019 - Our collaboration with Dan Geschwind's lab describing novel inherited and de novo autism risk genes and a zebrafish mutant that displays behavioral features of autism has been published at Cell!

June 24, 2019 - Our collaboration with Viviana Gradinaru's lab describing a sleep-promoting function for the serotonergic raphe in zebrafish and mice is online at Neuron! See also the Caltech press release and Video Abstract.

April 4, 2019 - Congratulations to Chanpreet for receiving a Sleep Research Society Career Development award!

December 18, 2017 - Our papers describing sleep-promoting roles for the neuropeptides NPVF and NPY are online at eLife and Current Biology! See also the Caltech press release.

September 21, 2017 - Read a new study from three talented Caltech students describing a sleep-like state in the jellyfish Cassiopea, demonstrating that sleep arose in animals before the evolution of a central nervous system, and pushing back the emergence of sleep by at least 600 million years. See also the Caltech video and Current Biology Dispatch, and listen to Claire talk about the project on NPR.

September 18, 2017 - Congratulations to Andrew on being awarded an NIH Predoctoral fellowship!

June 22, 2017 - Our paper showing that prokineticin 2 regulates the direct effects of light and dark on sleep is online at Neuron! See also the Caltech press release.

March 1, 2017 - Congratulations to David on his promotion to Professor!

February 22, 2017 - Watch David's Watson Lecture: Using fish to understand how and why we sleep.

September 15, 2016 - Congratulations to Dan on being awarded a K99 Pathway to Independence grant from the NIH and a Young Investigator award from the Brain and Behavioral Research Foundation!

September 1, 2016 - Congratulations to Steve on being awarded an NSERC postdoctoral fellowship!

August 1, 2016 - Congratulations to Uli on being awarded a German Research Foundation postdoctoral fellowship!

April 29, 2016Read David's Rita Allen Foundation Scholar profile.

February 19, 2016Listen to David discuss the sleep screen paper on the BBC World Service.

February 17, 2016 - Our paper describing the first large-scale screen for genes that affect vertebrate sleep is online at Neuron! See also the Video Abstract, Neuron press release and Cell Press podcast.

February 10, 2016 - Our paper showing that QRFP and its receptors regulate locomotor activity and sleep is online at the Journal of Neuroscience! See also the Editor Highlight.

February 1, 2016 - Our paper showing that TRP channels can be used to non-invasively stimulate and ablate zebrafish neurons while monitoring 96 freely-behaving larvae is online at Nature Methods!

September 1, 2015 - Our paper demonstrating non-invasive optogenetics while monitoring 96 freely-behaving larvae is online at eLife!

March 18, 2015 - Our paper demonstrating that melatonin is required for the circadian regulation of sleep is online at Neuron! See also the Caltech Video.

March 15, 2015 - Our paper showing that the transcription factor Lhx9 regulates the specification of Hcrt neurons in zebrafish and mice is online at Development!