Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences

Visiting Researcher







Sir Ernst Chain BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Genetic targeting histamine neurons

Research interest:

  • Neuroscience

Molecular neuroscience

Neuronal circuitry

Animal behaviour

  • Neural circuits underlying sleep-wake regulation

Elucidate neuronal circuitries that promote sleep or wakefulness in the mouse brain using anterograde and retrograde tracing, optogenetics, chemogenetics and in vivo Ca2    imaging

Identify molecular makers using single cell PCR or RNA-sequencing

  • Metabolic disorders


PhD, Neuroscience, 2010-2014, Imperial College London, London, UK (with Prof. William Wisden, FMedSci and Prof. Nick Franks, FMedSci, FRS)

RESEARCH Experience

  • Research Associate

Neural circuits in the cortex that generate sleep

Neurotransmitters co-released from the histamine system control wakefulness

Neural networks in the VTA that govern wakefulness and sleep

Neural circuits for bipolar disorder

  • Research Assistant and PhD

The intersection of circadian rhythms and the sleep-wake cycle.

  • MSc

Early response gene that regulates insulin resistance

Investigated a compound with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties under hypertensive status


2015-present: Research Associate, Department of Life Science, Imperial College London, London, UK.

2014-2015: Research Assistant, Department of Life Science, Imperial College London, London, UK.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Gelegen C, Miracca G, Ran M, et al., 2018, Excitatory pathways from the lateral habenula enable propofol-induced sedation, Current Biology, Vol:28, ISSN:1879-0445, Pages:580-587.e5

Yu X, Franks N, Wisden W, 2018, Sleep and sedative states induced by targeting the histamine and noradrenergic systems, Frontiers in Neural Circuits, Vol:12, ISSN:1662-5110

Wisden W, Yu X, Franks NP, 2017, GABA Receptors and the Pharmacology of Sleep, Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, Vol:253, ISSN:0171-2004, Pages:279-304

Brickley SG, Ye Z, Yu X, et al., 2017, Fast and slow inhibition in the visual thalamus is influenced by allocating GABAA receptors with different gamma subunits, Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, Vol:11, ISSN:1662-5102

Jager P, Ye Z, Yu X, et al., 2016, Tectal-derived interneurons contribute to phasic and tonic inhibition in the visual thalamus, Nature Communications, Vol:7, ISSN:2041-1723

Wisden W, Uygun DS, Ye Z, et al., 2016, Bottom-Up versus Top-Down Induction of Sleep by Zolpidem Acting on Histaminergic and Neocortex Neurons, Journal of Neuroscience, Vol:36, ISSN:0270-6474, Pages:11171-11184

Yu X, Zhiwen Y, Houston CM, et al., 2015, Wakefulness is governed by GABA and histamine co-transmission, Neuron, Vol:87, ISSN:0896-6273, Pages:164-178

Zhang Z, Ferretti V, Guentan I, et al., 2015, Neuronal ensembles sufficient for recovery sleep and the sedative actions of alpha(2) adrenergic agonists, Nature Neuroscience, Vol:18, ISSN:1546-1726, Pages:553-561

Shen N, Jiang S, Lu J-M, et al., 2015, The Constitutive Activation of Egr-1/C/EBPa Mediates the Development of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus by Enhancing Hepatic Gluconeogenesis, American Journal of Pathology, Vol:185, ISSN:0002-9440, Pages:513-523

Wisden W, Yu X, Zecharia A, et al., 2014, Circadian Factor BMAL1 in Histaminergic Neurons Regulates Sleep Architecture, Current Biology, Vol:24, ISSN:1879-0445, Pages:2838-2844

Zecharia AY, Yu X, Götz T, et al., 2012, GABAergic inhibition of histaminergic neurons regulates active waking but not the sleep-wake switch or propofol-induced loss of consciousness., J Neurosci, Vol:32, Pages:13062-13075

Yu X, Shen N, Zhang M-L, et al., 2011, Egr-1 decreases adipocyte insulin sensitivity by tilting PI3K/Akt and MAPK signal balance in mice, EMBO Journal, Vol:30, ISSN:0261-4189, Pages:3754-3765

Shen N, Yu X, Pan F-Y, et al., 2011, An Early Response Transcription Factor, Egr-1, Enhances Insulin Resistance in Type 2 Diabetes with Chronic Hyperinsulinism, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol:286, Pages:14508-14515

Xu Y, Chen J, Yu X, et al., 2010, Protective effects of chlorogenic acid on acute hepatotoxicity induced by lipopolysaccharide in mice, Inflammation Research, Vol:59, ISSN:1023-3830, Pages:871-877

Yu X, Tao W, Jiang F, et al., 2010, Celastrol Attenuates Hypertension-Induced Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells via Induction of Heme Oxygenase-1, American Journal of Hypertension, Vol:23, ISSN:0895-7061, Pages:895-903

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