de Lecea Lab Team Members

Principal Investigator

Luis de Lecea

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. de Lecea received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Barcelona and conducted postdoctoral research at the Scripps Research Institute in the lab of Dr. Greg Sutcliffe. During his postdoc, Dr. de Lecea discovered the cortical neuromodulator cortistatin and the hypothalamic hypocretin system. During the past decade he has held faculty positions at the Scripps Research Institute and Stanford University, where he has characterized the role of hypocretins in various mammalian behaviors. Recently, his lab has applied optogenetic techniques to directly modulate neurons that produce hypocretins and other neuromodulators to elucidate their role in behaviors, especially sleep/wake maintenance, stress, and reward.

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Lab Management

Ayesha Khan

Ayesha received her undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Punjab in Lahore, Pakistan. She has been working at Stanford University since 2008 and joined the de Lecea team in 2015 as a Manager. She is responsible for taking care of key metrics and keeping the de Lecea Lab running efficiently, that requires her wearing many hats. She provides support to Dr. de Lecea and his entire research group including visiting scholars and /or rotating students. She handles the de Lecea lab’s scheduling, purchases, assisting with finance, and various other functions to name a few.

If you would like to arrange a lab visit or an appointment with Dr. de Lecea or have any other inquiry, please feel free to contact her and she will be happy to assist.

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Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Yanan Zhao

Yanan completed her Ph.D. degree at Fudan University, where she uncovered the mechanisms of sleep transitions from the evolutionary point of view in Dr Zhili Huang’s lab, with a combination of optogenetics, in vivo electrophysiology, fiber photometry, polysomnography, immunohistochemistry and so on. In the de Lecea lab, Yanan is now curious about how sleep regulates the balance between DNA damage and repair with approaches of imaging. At the same time, she is interested in larger scale imaging during different brain states. Outside the lab, Yanan enjoys biking and exploring the sunny bay area.

Kanako Iwasaki

Kanako completed her PhD at the University of Tsukuba under the mentorship of Dr. Masashi Yanagisawa, where she investigated the molecular and neural mechanisms underlying sleep need. Kanako's contributions include delineating the specific neuronal populations affected by mutated kinase, which increase sleep need, and identifying the downstream genes influenced by this mutation. In the de Lecea lab, she will explore how the brain perceives and responds to sleep need through sensory systems, as well as elucidating the manifestation of sleep need within the cortex. Outside of the lab, she likes hiking and traveling.

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Oscar Gonzalez

Oscar earned his B.Sc. in Biology from the University of California, Riverside in 2012 and his Ph.D. in Computational Neurosciences from the University of California, San Diego in 2019, where he studied the regulation of brain network dynamics by ionic and synaptic homeostasis in Dr. Maxim Bazhenov’s lab. Using detailed biophysically realistic computational models, Oscar studied mechanisms leading to seizure onset, how ion dynamics give rise to infra-slow resting-state network fluctuations, and the role of sleep in memory consolidation. His general research interests are understanding the dynamical and biophysical mechanisms underlying coordinated brain dynamics and brain state transitions. In the de Lecea lab, Oscar combines theoretical and experimental techniques to study the impact of sleep pressure on wake-promoting brain regions, its impact on sleep architecture and disruption in neurodegenerative disorders. Outside the lab, Oscar enjoys growing a different species of carnivorous plants and performing as a magician/mentalist.

Charlotte Luff

Charlotte completed her PhD in the Interventional Systems Neuroscience lab of Dr Nir Grossman at Imperial College London. Her PhD research focused on uncovering the biophysical mechanism of temporal interference (TI) brain stimulation, primarily using electrophysiology and computational modelling. During her PhD, Charlotte spent a year as a visiting PhD student in Professor Ed Boyden’s lab at MIT, where she was trained in automated in-vivo patch clamp. Previously, Charlotte completed a BSc in Biomedical Science at King’s College London, and an MRes in Experimental Neuroscience at Imperial College London. Her research interests include the brain phenomena underpinning non-invasive neuromodulation such as focused ultrasound and electrical brain stimulation, and in the de Lecea lab she studies this with relation to sleep and addiction. Outside of the lab, Charlotte will most likely be found outside in nature, where she enjoys hiking, surfing and bouldering.

Erica Seigneur

Erica received a BA in Neuroscience and Behavior from Vassar College in 2009 and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University in 2018, where she studied the function of the cerebellin family of synaptic proteins in Thomas Südhof’s lab. In the de Lecea lab, Erica will be using a combination of approaches, including optogenetics, chemogenetics, CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, in vivo calcium imaging, and mouse behavior, to investigate the relationship between REM sleep disturbances and the development of major depression. 




Keith R. Murphy

Keith completed his Ph.D. at the Scripps Research institute and Florida Atlantic University with Dr. William Ja where he studied the genetic and neuronal integration of sleep and feeding. His work focused on the development of a high throughput system for measuring sleep and feeding in the fruit fly which he used to examine the role of food consumption and energy expenditure in sleep. In the de Lecea lab he will be exploring new technologies to identify circuits bridging digestive/metabolic sensory systems with sleep in mammals.

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William J. Giardino

Will earned a B.Sc. in Psychology from the University of Washington in 2008 and a Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Oregon Health & Science University in 2013. As a postdoctoral researcher in the de Lecea lab, he leads an NIH/NIAAA K99-funded research program that aims to uncover the neurobiological mechanisms driving maladaptive changes in stress reactivity and sleep/wake architecture that facilitate dysregulated patterns of reward-seeking in alcohol addiction. Will previously received F31 and F32 NIH NRSA fellowships to fund predoctoral and postdoctoral training on the neurocircuit basis of peptide signaling molecules in stress and addiction, and authored 20 peer-reviewed publications on this topic. He serves as an academic and research mentor for numerous trainees, and is an active participant in professional organizations including the Society for Neuroscience, the Research Society on Alcoholism, and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. Outside of the lab, Will enjoys playing the drums and exploring nature.

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Shi-Bin Li

Shi-Bin did his PhD in Max-Planck-Institute for Medical Research and he earned his PhD from Heidelberg University in Germany. Working in Dr. de Lecea’s lab as a postdoc fellow, Shi-Bin is interested in sleep modulation under stressful conditions. Outside work, Shi-Bin enjoys jogging in the nice California weather and exploring the beautiful landscape in the Bay area.

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Wen-Jie Bian

Wenjie earned his bachelor degree in 2008 at Zhejiang University of Technology and his Ph.D. in neurobiology in 2016 at the Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences. His main thesis work was to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying cortical spine pruning during adolescent development. In the de Lecea lab, he focuses on two directions. One direction is to study the developmental role of sleep/wake cycle and arousal circuits in shaping critical brain functions such as social interaction and motor learning. The other direction is to dissect the subpopulations of Hypocretin neurons based on their projection patterns. Outside the lab, Wenjie likes photography, hiking and traveling. 

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Kimberly J. Jennings

Kim earned her B.Sc. in Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin in 2011 and her Ph.D. in Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience from The University of California, Berkeley in 2017, where she studied social and environmental control of neuroendocrine systems. As part of the de Lecea lab, Kim will be using behavioral, optogenetic, and chemogenetic approaches to investigate hypocretin regulation of motivated behavior.

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Christopher C. Angelakos

Chris received his B.Sc in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan and obtained his PhD in the laboratory of Dr. Ted Abel at the University of Pennsylvania. His thesis work involved investigating sleep and circadian alterations in mouse transgenic models of neurodevelopmental disorders. In the de Lecea lab, Chris will be utilizing behavioral, optogenetic, chemogenetic, and calcium imaging techniques to study neuropeptidergic circuits mediating sleep, arousal, and learning.

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Susan M. Tyree

Susan was born in Invercargill, New Zealand and moved to Dunedin, New Zealand after high school to attend Otago University, where she obtained her undergraduate degree in Psychology. Susan remained at Otago University in Prof. Neil McNaughton's lab to carry out her Master's degree research studying the effects of leptin administration on neural and behavioral markers of anxiety. Following her Master's studies she moved to Berlin, Germany and completed her doctoral studies in the Molecular Genetics department of the German Institute of Human Nutrition and Potsdam University where she studied patterns of neural activity following taste stimulation in the parabrachial nucleus. In the de Lecea lab, Susan  used optogenetic stimulation, fiber-photometry, and pharmacological techniques to investigate neural circuits underlying impulsivity and behavioral inhibition.

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Natalie Nevárez

Natalie earned a BA in Psychology and Communication Studies from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. She earned a Ph.D. in Biopsychology from the University of Michigan in the lab of Dr. Brandon Aragona and under the guidance of Dr. Jill Becker. Natalie’s Ph.D. work examined the nature of dopaminergic neuroplasticity observed after pair bonding in the socially monogamous prairie vole. Her graduate work utilized behavioral pharmacology, complex behavioral analysis, and fast scan cyclic voltammetry for real time measurement of dopamine release in striatal brain slices. At Stanford, Natalie used a variety of tools such as optogenetics and targeted gene delivery to study arousal, affect, and reinforcement processes. 

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Jeremy C. Borniger

Jeremy was born in Washington, DC and attended Indiana University - Bloomington for his undergraduate degree in biological anthropology. Jeremy took a gap year after college working as the assistant project director for the Semliki Chimpanzee Project in western Uganda and then went on to complete his PhD in neuroscience in Randy J Nelson's lab at The Ohio State University. His primary focus was on how tumors in the periphery (non-metastatic mammary tumors) contributed to changes in sleep and wakefulness, as well as metabolism. In the de Lecea lab, Jeremy used opto/chemogenetic techniques in combination with fiber photometry and behavior to explore novel arousal circuitry and investigate glial contributions to sleep and waking. Jeremy also continued his tumor work in the de Lecea lab.

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Hiroshi Yamaguchi

Hiroshi Yamaguchi earned his Ph.D. in molecular cell biology from Osaka University in Japan under the supervision of Dr. Shigekazu Nagata and joined the de Lecea lab in 2015. As a postdoctoral fellow at the de Lecea lab, he used optogenetic, chemogenetic and CRISPR/Cas9 technologies to investigate the neuronal mechanism of sleep and hibernation.


Ada Eban-Rothschild

Ada earned her PhD in the Department of Evolution, Systematics, and Ecology in Israel, where she studied social influences on circadian rhythms and sleep in bees. During her time in the de Lecea lab she investigated VTA dopaminergic neurons and how they regulate behaviors that are relevant to sleep-wake state transitions. Ada has now accepted an Assistant Professorship at the Department of Psychology in the Univserity of Michigan.

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Andrew J. Whittle

Andrew earned his PhD in physiology and metabolism from Cambridge University in the UK, where he studied the role of brown adipose tissue (BAT) in the regulation of energy balance. Andrew's key research question asks how the thermogenic activity of BAT is regulated, particularly in response to changes in environment and nutrition, with the hope of better understanding the propensity for BAT to be targeted for the treatment of a range of metabolic disorders. As a Postdoc in Luis de Lecea's lab, Andrew investigated neuronal circuits which couple information being received on dietary content and environmental temperature with the efferent pathways that signal to BAT. 

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Clara Touriño

Clara was born in Barcelona, Spain, and earned her BA in biology from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. She earned her Ph.D. in the Neuropharmacology lab in the same university with Dr. Rafael Maldonado and Olga Valverde studying the role of cannabinoid system in the effects of psychostimulant drugs. During her Ph.D. she spent 6 months in Dr. Daniele Piomelli's lab, where she studied the effect of the endogenous cannabinoid system in food intake and energy balance. In this period she got 5 publications (4 as first author) and developed several scientific projects in collaboration with Pharmaceutical companies. During her time in the de Lecea Lab Clara investigated the neural basis of cocaine addiction with cutting-edge molecular tools such as optogenetics and viral gene delivery.

Asya Rolls

Asya's interest in sleep research originates in the question of how the body and especially the CNS achieve balance. She first asked this question as a graduate student at the Weizmann Institute in Israel where she studied how the immune system regulates CNS plasticity. As a postdoc at the de Lecea lab, Asya studied how sleep as a physiological state affects re-organization, restoration, and plasticity in the CNS and in the periphery. She attempts to address these questions at multiple levels of analysis from molecules to behavior, combining her training in molecular and cell biology, along with neuronal circuit dissection using optogenetics, electrophysiological analysis of sleep, and behavioral models of learning and memory. 

Patricia Bonnavion

Patricia earned her Ph.D. in physiology and physiopathology in 2008 at the University Pierre & Marie Curie (UPMC) in Paris. Her research interests were initially oriented on the brainstem neural circuits governing sleep/wake transitions with a particular focus on the serotonin (5-HT) signaling. As she joined Luis de Lecea's lab as a postdoc fellow, she pursued studying the dynamic of arousal systems across vigilance states and in response to environmental & behavioral challenges that threaten and disrupt homeostasis. Her work focuses on the signal integration and high inter-connectivity of the lateral hypothalamus and monoaminergic neurons using combinations of optogenetics, behavior and EEG analysis.

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Matthew E. Carter

Matt received his undergraduate degree in Biology from Whitman College and his Ph.D. from the Neurosciences program at Stanford University. Matt is generally interested in the neural basis of instinctive, homeostatic behaviors in mammals and enjoys using molecular and systems neuroscience tools (optogenetics, viral gene delivery, transgenics) to probe neural circuits. In the de Lecea lab, Matt focuses on the role of Hypocretin and Locus Coeruleus neurons in sleep/wake transitions and arousal-related behaviors. Outside of the lab, Matt also enjoys teaching and writing. At Stanford, he served as Head TA for NBio206: The Nervous System and started/taught NBio227: Understanding Techniques in Neuroscience. He also co-wrote the textbook "Guide to Research Techniques in Neuroscience."