Project Title: Does the brain clear toxins more efficiently during sleep?
Supervisors: Professor William Wisden and Professor Nicholas Franks
Location: South Kensington

About Me

I travelled alone to the UK from China when I was 17 years old. I finished my A-Levels at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh. With a passion in science, I came to Imperial College to study biology. During my undergraduate period, I developed a strong interest in neuroscience. Seeing so many people, including my very own family members suffering from neurodegenerative diseases and dementia, I decided to make my personal contribution to decipher the mysteries of the disease and help to develop more effective treatments.


BSc. Biology (Imperial College London) 2016

MRes. Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (Imperial College London) 2017

Research Interests 

It is my pleasure to join the Wisden/Franks lab in the UK Dementia Research Institute (Life Sciences Department) of Imperial College during my PhD study. Guided by my supervisors, I and two postdoctoral researchers are making efforts to understand the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia from a life style prospective, i.e. sleep.  My particular project involves the development of a new optical technique which will directly measure the movement and speed of the interstitial fluid (ISF) within the mouse brain. This fluid is believed to carry brain metabolic waste molecules such as the Alzheimer’s disease-causing protein amyloid-beta. A higher speed of ISF movement indicates a more efficient clearance of the metabolic wastes. Therefore, by combining these measurements with the recording of brain electrical activity (EEG), I would be able to measure the ISF flow rate under different vigilant stages of the brain (i.e. wake and different stages of sleep). This technique will also allow us to identify drugs that could speed up the clearance, and which could be used to delay the onset of dementia. As part of the UK DRI, I am determined to use the knowledge of science to help more people to maintain a healthy brain via good sleep.

Selected publications

Ma, Y., Miracca, G., Yu, X., Harding, E.C., Miao, A., Yustos, R., Vyssotski, A.L., Franks, N.P. and Wisden, W., 2019. Galanin neurons unite sleep homeostasis and α2-adrenergic sedation. Current Biology, 29(19), pp.3315-3322.

Harding EC, Yu X, Miao A, et al., 2018, A Neuronal Hub Binding Sleep Initiation and Body Cooling in Response to a Warm External Stimulus, Current Biology, Vol:28, ISSN:0960-9822, Pages:2263-+, DOI: j.cub.2018.05.054

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