Mohammad Saffari Doost

The Role of Medullary GABAergic Neurons in Controlling Sleep

Because sleep makes up one-third of our lifespan, it is important to study its mechanisms so we can better understand its components and learn ways to curb consequences (e.g., cardiovascular disease and psychological disorders) related to insufficient or low-quality sleep. In mammals, sleep alternates between rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. These sleep states are controlled by the neural circuits in our brain, which are mostly found in the hypothalamus and the brain stem. With regard to the medulla (also located in the brain stem), we know that activating the GABAergic neurons in the ventral medulla promotes REM sleep, but there are other medullary GABAergic neurons that remain unclear in their function as it pertains to sleep. To find the role of these medullary GABAergic neurons in controlling sleep, I will activate or inhibit different groups of GABAergic neurons in the medulla, optogenetically or chemogenitically, and determine their effect on the probability of different sleep states. Overall, this study can potentially give rise to new therapies that treat sleep disorders.

Message to Sponsor

I am grateful to have this opportunity to carry out my independent project, which I hope can positively contribute to better treatments for sleep disorders. In addition, I would like to thank the Rose Hills Foundation for supporting my pursuit of science via this project, which I look forward to beginning soon.
  • Major: Integrative Biology
  • Sponsor: Rose Hills Independent
  • Mentor: Yang Dan