About our Research
Aging and sleep are highly conserved biological processes, and deficiencies and disruptions in sleep and aging processes have been linked with many other diseases including obesity, diabetes, and cancer. We study the molecular components and neural circuits underlying sleep and aging using Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism. We ask questions such as why do we sleep, or how do we extend healthy lifespan?
The nematode roundworm C. elegans is particularly suited for studying aging and sleep. It displays all behavioral hallmarks of sleep behavior as in humans, and its nervous system physiology is remarkably different between sleep and wake states. Many anatomical and functional changes that are observed in human aging are also seen in C. elegans. Its short life span of about three weeks and a rapid 2-3 day life-cycle coupled to its small size, allows for easy genetic manipulation and high-throughput screening of mutations in worm genes with altered sleep and aging phenotypes. Worm genes show strong homology with their human counterparts, particularly in genes that regulate sleep and aging. Many fundamental discoveries have been made with C. elegans such as RNA interference and genetic regulation of programmed cell death, and it likewise is a valuable discovery system for sleep and aging research.
We are located in the Biology Dept of the University of Nevada, Reno. The campus is nestled on the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, about four hours from San Francisco and 30 min from Lake Tahoe with its hiking trails, ski resorts, and beaches.