Katsuyasu Sakurai

Affiliation:International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine, University of Tsukuba

Research Title


Mutual neural communication between internal state and external world/stimuli

01 Research Summary

For survival, all organisms, including humans, adjust their internal state, such as physiological and psychological, to adapt to the external world. The adaptation requires mutual communication between the internal state and the outer world. In our laboratory, we will understand how the internal state (e.g. sleep or arousal state)and external world information is processed, integrated for executing appropriate action, such as behavior and emotion in the brain. Currently, we are trying to understand the underlying neural mechanisms for taste or pain perception at the multi-levels (Gene, Cell, Circuit, and Behavior).


02 Major achievements

Rodriguez E, Sakurai K, Xu J, Chen Y, Toda K, Zhao S, Han BX, Ryu D, Yin H, Liedtke W, Wang F. “A craniofacial-specific monosynaptic circuit enables heightened affective pain” Nature Neuroscience. 2017, 20(12), 1734-1743.

Sakurai K, Zhao S, Takatoh J, Rodriguez E, Lu J, Leavitt A, Fu M, Han BX, Wang F. “Capturing and manipulating activated neuronal ensembles with CANE delineates a hypothalamic social-fear circuit” Neuron. 2016, 92(4), 739-753.

Sakurai K, Akiyama M, Cai B, Scott A, Han BX, Takatoh J, Sigrist M, Arber S, Wang F. “The organization of submodality-specific touch afferent inputs in the vibrissa column” Cell Reports. 2013, 5(1), 87-98.

03 Education/Academic background and major awards

Education/Academic background

2008Mar Tohoku University, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan Ph.D. in Medical Science
2008Apr-2008Oct Postdoctoral Fellow at Tohoku University, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
2008Nov-2013Oct Postdoctoral Fellow at Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
2013Nov-2017Jun Research Associate Senior at Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
2017Jul-Present Assistant Professor, International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan


2008 Tohoku University, Graduate School of Medicine, Scholarship award
2013 Duke University, Department of Neurobiology, Graduate Program Retreat, Best poster presentation award


Why did you become a scientist?

I just wanted to live abroad. The scientist seems cool. (Now, I don’t think so)

What do you care about at work?

I just want to do something interesting.

What are you most interested in lately?