Yo Oishi

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

Research Title


Neural circuits creating sleep and brain waves

01 Research Summary

People spend approximately one-third of their life sleeping. Why sleep is compulsory for human life and cannot be avoided, however, remains unclear. It is important to understand why sleep is necessary and how sleep is controlled – not only to elucidate physiologic behavior but also to enhance our quality of life.

Recently, we inadvertently created mice that require an extremely low amount of sleep. Surprisingly, these mice do not show an increase in a sleepiness marker. Therefore, the behavior is very similar to that of so-called “short sleepers” – people that can function for long periods of time on little sleep without exhibiting excessive sleepiness. Using multiple “short sleep” models, including this novel mouse model, we study the effect of short sleep on other physiologic functions in the body to understand the necessity of sleep. We also study the neural mechanisms of short sleep to clarify the control mechanisms of sleep.


02 Major achievements

Honda T, Takata Y, Cherasse Y, Mizuno S, Sugiyama F, Takahashi S, Funato H, Yanagisawa M, Lazarus M, Oishi Y. Ablation of Ventral Midbrain/Pons GABA Neurons Induces Mania-like Behaviors with Altered Sleep Homeostasis and Dopamine D2R-mediated Sleep Reduction. iScience, 23(6):101240, 2020

Takata Y, Oishi Y*, Zhou XZ, Hasegawa E, Takahashi K, Cherasse Y, Sakurai T, Lazarus M*. Sleep and Wakefulness are controlled by ventral medial midbrain/pons GABAergic neurons in mice. J Neurosci, 38(47):10080-10092, 2018 (*corresponding authors)

Oishi Y, Xu Q, Wang L, Zhang BJ, Takahashi K, Takata Y, Luo YJ, Cherasse Y, Schiffmann SN, de Kerchove d’Exaerde A, Urade Y, Qu WM, Huang ZL, Lazarus M. Slow-wave sleep is controlled by a subset of nucleus accumbens core neurons in mice. Nat Commun, 8(1):734, 2017

03 Education/Academic background and major awards

Education/Academic background

2009 Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University, Japan Ph.D. in Medicine
2009-2010 Postdoctoral Associate at Osaka Bioscience Institute, Japan
2010-2012 JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow for Research Abroad
2010-2013 Research Fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, USA
2013-2017 Researcher, International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine (IIIS), University of Tsukuba, Japan
2017-2023 Assistant Professor, International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine, University of Tsukuba, Japan
2018-present Principal Investigator, International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine, University of Tsukuba, Japan
2023-present Associate Professor, International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine, University of Tsukuba, Japan


2018 Research Encouragement Award, Japanese Society of Sleep Research
2018 Young Faculty Encouragement award, University of Tsukuba


Why did you become a scientist?

The "Selfish Gene" inspired me.

I was inspired when I was a university student to read Richard Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene," a book written for the general public on Darwin's theory of evolution from a genetic perspective. I remember feeling the depth of biology in a story in which the simple principle of natural selection of self-replicating products in response to their environment explained our diverse biological world very well.

What do you care about at work?


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