Imperial Sleep Week 2019

25th February 2019 – 1st March 2019


Sleep, often defined as a transient loss of consciousness, seems to have an important biological function, but researchers still do not understand why we need to sleep. Our Sleep Imperial Campaign hopes to transform the way you perceive sleep. Throughout the week of 25 February 2019, seven speakers, from prominent clinicians to pioneering researchers and leading entrepreneurs, will be elucidating why sleep is important for your mental and physical well-being.

Sign Up Here

25 February 2019, 6:00pm to 7:00pm: Prof. Mary Morrell – SAFB G16
The health benefits and myths of sleep: How much sleep do we really need?

Sleep is something we all do; in fact, it is vital for survival. This talk will focus on healthy sleep and will aim to answer your questions on the many myths that surround sleep.

We all sleep differently. Madonna has revealed she “only grabs four hours’ sleep a night because she constantly worries about everything that is going on her life” (BBC News). Margaret Thatcher and Thomas Edison were also famous short sleepers. Ironically Edison’s invention – the light bulb that has contributed to much to the sleep deprivation many of us feel. He is reported to have slept only 3-4 hours at night, regarding sleep as a waste of time. So why do we sleep? And what happens if we don’t get enough? Indeed, how much sleep do we need? These questions will be discussed and Professor Morrell is looking forward to meeting you and answering your questions.

26 February 2019, 12:30pm to 1:30pm: Prof. William Wisden – SAFB G34
Why sleep is good for you

We have all felt the effects of a poor night’s sleep. If we don’t sleep well we feel generally groggy. And if we don’t sleep at all, our body takes over and forces us to go to sleep, at least for a while. It seems that regular sleep is needed to maintain the body’s health. But researchers still do not understand why we need to sleep. In this talk, Professor Wisden will outline the current research findings of how sleep may help the brain clear the build-up of waste toxins, stimulate the memory, stabilize mood and boost the immune system.

Biography | Prof. William Wisden studied Natural Sciences (zoology) at the University of Cambridge, and then did his PhD with Prof. Stephen Hunt at the MRC Molecular Neurobiology Unit, Cambridge, followed by a period as postdoc in Prof. Peter Seeburg’s lab at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. He returned to Cambridge as a group leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (1992 – 2001), followed by a return to Heidelberg, then to a Professorship at the University of Aberdeen (Scotland), where he was head of neuroscience, and finally in 2009 to a Professorship at Imperial College London. Prof. Wisden has worked extensively on neurotransmitter receptors and neural circuitry of memory. But in the last decade, he has become interested in sleep. In collaboration with Prof. Nick Franks FRS (also at Imperial), he has used mouse genetics to investigate how inhibition regulates the sleep-wake circuitry and the actions of sedative drugs. Prof. Wisden is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

26 February 2019, 6:00pm to 7:00pm: Dr Alanna Hare — SAFB G34
Sleep, Creativity and Happiness

Neuroscientists and clinicians increasingly understand that sleep deprivation has catastrophic effects on our physical and mental health, but as our world becomes more connected and the line between work and leisure grows more blurred, sleep is increasingly neglected and almost half the population is now considered to be sleep deprived. In this talk, Dr Hare will explore the science of sleep, explaining the power of sleep to awaken creativity, increase our happiness, improve our relationships and support our health and wellbeing. She will describe how, as individuals and organisations, we can work together to improve our sleep health.

Biography | Dr Hare (MA (Cantab) MB BS MEd MRCP) is a consultant physician and specialist in Sleep Medicine. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Cambridge and undertook her postgraduate training at Imperial College, London, qualifying in medicine in 2002. She trained at St Mary’s Hospital and St Thomas’ Hospital, London and has worked at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London since 2010 where she is Deputy Director of Medical Education and Royal College Tutor.

Dr Hare undertook postgraduate training in medical leadership as part of the prestigious Darzi Fellowship scheme. She completed a Masters in Clinical Education in 2013 and was awarded a distinction for her work on the assessment of clinical competence.

Dr Hare trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia at the University of Oxford and, in her clinical practice manages insomnia, sleep breathing disorders including snoring and sleep apnoea, the restless legs syndrome, parasomnias (abnormal behaviours in sleep), narcolepsy and hypersomnolence and circadian rhythm and shift work disorders.  

Outside of her clinical work, Dr Hare has significant experience delivering seminars and workshops in the corporate environment.  She is focused on supporting individuals and employers to improve their mental and physical health and optimise productivity and performance through better sleep. She is passionate about the role of sleep in performance, mood, health and well-being and has a particular interest in the treatment of insomnia.

After Dr Hare’s lecture, Dr Sohaib Imtiaz MPH (NHS Clinical Entrepreneur, board certified lifestyle medicine doctor and VP Innovation at Owaves) will be talking about his start-up Owaves at 6:30 pm, in SAF G34.

27 February 2019, 12:30pm to 1:30pm: Charlie Oulton (SleepHubs) – Flowers Building G47 A and B

The business of sleep: evolution, current problems and opportunity, development

Why Sleep is a current problem in the general population? How big is the problem, and why is it getting worse? What can we do? What is the Imperial scenario?

Biography | Graduated from Imperial 1986. Worked as RTZ graduate trainee for 4 years then joined the family antique business in Altrincham. Over 25 years built it with his brother to be $100+m international design company supplying 68 countries with HQ in Hong Kong. Left 5 years ago to follow his passion: Helping others to sleep better after 10 years of his life were spoilt with sleep apnoea.

28 February 2019, 12:30pm to 1:30pm: Dr Jason Rihel (UCL) – SAFB G34
Sleep, Circadian Rhythms and Zebrafish

The mechanisms in the brain that drive sleep remain mysterious. The Rihel lab is using the zebrafish, which shares many key sleep-regulatory neurons with humans, to uncover new and unexpected regulators of sleep amount and timing.

Biography | Jason fell in love with the molecular dissection of behaviour as an undergraduate in Jeff Price’s lab at West Virginia University, where he worked on the fruit fly circadian clock mutant, double-time. He pursued his PhD in Catherine Dulac’s lab at Harvard University (1998-2004), studying the molecular underpinnings of mouse pheromone detection. For his postdoctoral work, Jason joined Alexander Schier’s lab at Harvard University (2004-2011), where Jason worked out methods to study the molecular biology of sleep in zebrafish. In 2012, he joined University College London, where he is currently Reader in Behavioural Genetics. He has received grants from the European Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, and Alzheimer’s Research UK, and has presented his work on radio (BBC) and television (Channel 4).

28 February 2019, 6:00pm to 7:00pm: Prof. Vlad Vyazovskiy (Oxford) – RCS 101 Lecture Theatre C

Local cortical oscillations, sleep homeostasis and mental health

Sleep is a homeostatically regulated process crucially important for mental health. Contrary to the widely-held notion, waking and sleep are not global, mutually exclusive states, but can occur at the level of local cortical regions or even individual neurons. The question remains how restorative changes occurring at the level of individual cells are related to the complex spatio-temporal patterns of brain activity characteristic of sleep, and why global continuous sleep is necessary.

Biography | Dr Vyazovskiy graduated from Kharkov National University, Ukraine in 1997, and in 2004 he acquired PhD degree at the University of Zurich, Switzerland under the supervision of Irene Tobler and Alexander A. Borbély. From 2005-2011 he worked in the group led by Giulio Tononi and Chiara Cirelli at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, initially as a postdoctoral researcher and then as an Assistant and Associate Scientist. In 2012-2013 he was a Lecturer in Sleep and Chronobiology at the Department of Biochemistry and Physiology (Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences) of the University of Surrey, UK. Since December of 2013, he is a Senior Research Fellow and Associate Professor of Neuroscience (since 2015) at the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Genetics of the University of Oxford. His research is devoted to understanding the spatio-temporal organisation of brain activity during waking and sleep and its relevance for sleep’s function and brain disorders.

1 March 2019, 12:30pm to 1:30pm: Dr Marco Brancaccio – SAFB G34

Astrocytic encoding of circadian time

Circadian clocks in the brain determine time of sleep. The underlying circuit mechanisms depend on the activity of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus, which orchestrates daily control of behaviour and physiology. A long-standing assumption is that neurons of the SCN are solely responsible for circadian time-keeping. However, surprising recent evidence shows that astrocytes are capable of rescuing circadian function in genetically incompetent “clockless” mice (Brancaccio et al., Neuron 2017; Science 2019). The underlying mechanisms and the wider implications of these findings for sleep and circadian function will be discussed.

Biography | Dr Brancaccio received his MSc degree in Medical Biotechnology from the University of Naples “Federico II”, in Italy. After obtaining a PhD degree in Neuroscience from SISSA (International School for Advanced Studies) in Trieste, Italy, he joined Michael Hastings group in the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge (UK) to study the mechanisms of circadian time-keeping in the brain. He has pioneered viral delivery of genetically encoded indicators for live imaging of circadian calcium, voltage and gene expression, as well as pharmacogenetic manipulation of neurons of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) (Brancaccio et al. 2013, Neuron; Brancaccio et al J. Neurosc. 2014). In 2014, He established a novel independent research line addressing the role of neuronal-astrocytic interplay in circadian pacemaking. In this work, he has demonstrated that astrocytes of the SCN can impose their intrinsic tempo to the living mouse and described the underlying molecular and inter-cellular mechanisms (Brancaccio et al. 2017, Neuron; Hastings MH, Maywood ES, Brancaccio M., Nature Reviews Neurosc. 2018; Brancaccio et al. Science 2019). In October 2018, he joined the Division of Brain Sciences at Imperial College London as a Lecturer and a Fellow of the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK-DRI) to study the mechanisms driving circadian misregulation in the early stages of dementia. Here, he uses a wide range of cutting-edge techniques, including live imaging and in vivo gene therapy to both investigate and harness circadian brain function with the aim of preventing/delaying dementia onset and progression.

1 March 2019, 4:00pm to 5:00pm: Dr. Giorgio Gilestro – SAFB G34

Is sleep essential? Depriving Fruit Flies completely of sleep.

Sleep is certainly important for our lives but is it also vital? Dr Gilestro turned to evolution to ask this question and analysed what happens in fruit flies when we completely remove sleep from their life.

BiographyDr Gilestro was born in Turin, Italy, where he studied Medical Biotechnology. In 2006 he graduated with a PhD in neurobiology from the University of Vienna, Austria and in the same year he started working on sleep, using the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster as the animal model of choice. Since 2010, he is a member of the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London. His main scientific question remains “why we sleep?”.

Sign up here!

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top