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The award cycle for the 2016 Young Investigator Award is now closed.
This award recognizes an outstanding research effort by a young investigator in the field of sleep research. The basis for evaluation of a candidate is a single peer-reviewed publication supported by a senior investigator's letter of recommendation. The candidate must be the first author and the article needs to have been published or accepted for publication in 2015.
Jonathan Lipton, MD, PhD
Jonathan Lipton, MD, PhD of Boston Children's Hospital for the project, "The Circadian Protein BMAL1 Regulates Translation in Response to S6K1---Mediated Phosphorylation", published in the May 15, 2015 issue of the journal Cell.
Jonathan Lipton is a New York City native who received his MD and PhD degrees from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine where he performed graduate work with Scott Emmons in behavioral genetics. After a residency and chief residency in Child Neurology and fellowship in Sleep Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, he completed post-doctoral studies with Mustafa Sahin, investigating circadian rhythm dysfunction in models of neurodevelopmental disease. He identified the core circadian clock protein BMAL1 as a regulator of protein synthesis. BMAL1 promotes circadian rhythms in protein synthesis as a substrate of the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, a critical gauge of nutritive status and stress thereby characterizing a novel, potentially modifiable link between the circadian timing system and cellular signaling. Dr. Lipton has recently established his own laboratory at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School focused on the identification of mechanisms of circadian-regulated protein synthesis in the context of neurological disease models. He has been supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Shore Foundation, Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, Hearst Foundation, American Academy of Neurology, American Sleep Medicine Foundation, and the NIH.
Divya Sitaraman, PhD
Divya Sitaraman, PhD of the University of San Diego, for the project "Propagation of Homeostatic Sleep Signals by Segregated Synaptic Microcircuits of the Drosophila Mushroom Body", published in the November 6, 2015 issue of the journal Current Biology.
Dr. Divya Sitaraman received her PhD in 2010 from University of Missouri, USA studying the neural basis of learning and memory in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. As part of this work she developed novel behavioral assays focussing on operant learning and elaborated the role of serotonin in reinforcement processing.
Following her PhD, Dr. Sitaraman moved to Yale University for her post-doctoral studies. As part of a collaboration between Dr. Michael Nitabach (Yale) and Dr. Gerald Rubin (HHMI) she identified two parallel and opposing synaptic microcircuits propagating sleep control information through the mushroom body (MB), an associative learning network of the fly brain. Her work identified MB as an essential locus for the generation of homeostatic sleep control signals and that the two parallel segregated sleep- and wake-synaptic microcircuits within MB converge on to common downstream sleep control targets and underlie the sleep-wake transition. She hopes to continue the comprehensive dissection of the synaptic topology of sleep control
Dr. Sitaraman is the recipient of several fellowships, including the Visiting Scientist Fellowship at Janelia Research Campus at HHMI and is currently an Assistant Professor at University of San Diego. Her research at USD focusses on understanding the complex relationship between sleep and memory formation mechanisms at the genetic, cellular and circuit level.
Andrea M. Spaeth, PhD
Andrea M. Spaeth, PhD of the University of Pennsylvania, for the project "Phenotypic vulnerability of energy balance responses to sleep loss in healthy adults", published in the October 5, 2016 issue of the journal Scientific Reports.
Andrea Spaeth is a postdoctoral fellow conducting research in the Unit for Experimental Psychiatry, Division of Sleep and Chronobiology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her BA in Psychology at Elon University (Honors Thesis: Relationships between serum total cholesterol levels, stress, risk factors for the metabolic syndrome, and cognitive performance), MA in Experimental Psychology at the College of William and Mary (Thesis: The effects of adolescent nicotine exposure on adult learning) and PhD at the University of Pennsylvania (Dissertation: Consequences of Chronic Sleep Restriction on Energy Balance in Healthy Adults). As a doctoral student, Andrea examined the neural basis for feeding behavior in rodent models for two years and then joined the Unit for Experimental Psychiatry in order to examine the effects of sleep loss on energy balance regulation in humans. She is now learning brain imaging methods in order to assess how changes in brain activity may underlie the effects of sleep loss on energy balance. Andrea was awarded the NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award in 2012, the NIH Loan Repayment Award in 2015 and is currently funded on an NIH T32 training program in sleep and respiratory neurobiology.