We study how neural circuits give rise to complex behaviors, and how dysfunction of neural processes can cause mental illness. Our particular focus is in understanding how sleep -- a highly conserved behavior whose core function remains a mystery -- contributes to sculpting brain circuits during development and in other times of life. To answer these questions, we primarily utilize the powerful genetic system Drosophila melanogaster (the fruit fly). The fly provides unparalleled neurogenetic approaches towards unraveling the neural logic of complex behaviors. In addition, genetic and molecular insights from Drosophila have repeatedly translated to higher organisms, even humans.
We are a "question-driven" lab. We use or develop any approaches necessary to further our understanding of biological processes that, when awry, contribute to neuropsychiatric disease.
1. How does sleep early in life affect brain development and, ultimately, normal adult function?
2. What role does sleep play in promoting the formation of new synaptic connections in the brain?
3. How do disruptions to sleep impact aggressive behaviors?
In addition to work in the laboratory, we have ongoing clinical research interests that include biomarkers of treatment response to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) and treatment of insomnia in people with HIV and depression. Please contact us with any questions about these clinical research areas.