Yo Oishi

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

Research Title


To elucidate the necessity of sleep with short-sleep mice

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

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

Oishi Y, Williams RH, Agostinelli L, Arrigoni E, Fuller PM, Mochizuki T, Saper CB, Scammell TE. Role of the medial prefrontal cortex in cataplexy. J Neurosci, 33(23):9743-51, 2013.

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-present 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


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


Why did you become a scientist?

Being a scientist suits my personality.

The basic procedures of research are (1) asking a question, (2) selecting and executing the best approach to address the question out of a limited selection of methods, and (3) uncovering new information that addresses previously unanswered questions. I think many people are interested in (3), but I enjoy (1) and (2) as well, and for this reason I became a scientist.

What do you care about at work?

I am interested in the big picture

When studying complex life phenomena, I sometimes encounter unexpected facts that can be clarified only through multifaceted analysis. I try not to be caught up by preconceived notions and to take a broad perspective.

What are you most interested in lately?

Buying a large number of novels

If I like a certain writer, I often buy a lot of his/her work at one time. When I read the works in the order of publication, I sometimes am able to observe an increase in the depth of the author’s work, and this impresses me.