The de Lecea Lab
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Members of our Research Team

Principal Investigator

Luis de Lecea
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. de Lecea received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Barcelona and conducted postdoctoral research at the Scripps Research Institute in the lab of Dr. Greg Sutcliffe. During his postdoc, Dr. de Lecea discovered the cortical neuromodulator cortistatin and the hypothalamic hypocretin system. During the past decade he has held faculty positions at the Scripps Research Institute and Stanford University, where he has characterized the role of hypocretins in various mammalian behaviors. Recently, his lab has applied optogenetic techniques to directly modulate neurons that produce hypocretins and other neuromodulators to elucidate their role in behaviors, especially sleep/wake maintenance, stress, and reward.

Click HERE for Luis de Lecea's CV
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Scientific Personnel

Clara Tourino
Postdoctoral Fellow

Clara was born in Barcelona, Spain, and earned her BA in biology from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. She earned her Ph.D. in the Neuropharmacology lab in the same university with Dr. Rafael Maldonado and Olga Valverde studying the role of cannabinoid system in the effects of psychostimulant drugs. During her Ph.D. she spent 6 months in Dr. Daniele Piomelli's lab, where she studied the effect of the endogenous cannabinoid system in food intake and energy balance. In this period she got 5 publications (4 as first author) and developed several scientific projects in collaboration with Pharmaceutical companies. Since arriving at Stanford, she has focused her interests on exploring the neural basis of cocaine addiction with cutting-edge molecular tools such as optogenetics and viral gene delivery.

Click HERE for Clara's CV
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Ada Eban-Rothschild
Postdoctoral Fellow






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Andrew Whittle
Postdoctoral Fellow

Andrew earned his PhD in physiology and metabolism from Cambridge University in the UK, where he studied the role of brown adipose tissue (BAT) in the regulation of energy balance. Andrew’s key research question asks how the thermogenic activity of BAT is regulated, particularly in response to changes in environment and nutrition, with the hope of better understanding the propensity for BAT to be targeted for the treatment of a range of metabolic disorders. As a Postdoc in Luis de Lecea’s lab, Andrew hopes to identify neuronal circuits which couple information being received on dietary content and environmental temperature with the efferent pathways that signal to BAT. In his spare time Andrew is looking forward to enjoying some of the outdoor activities the Californian landscape and climate provide!!


Click HERE for Andrew's CV
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William Giardino
Postdoctoral Fellow

Will earned his B.S. in Psychology from the University of Washington in 2008 and his Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Oregon Health & Science University in 2013. As a postdoctoral fellow in the de Lecea lab, he is using optogenetic, molecular, and behavioral methods to clarify the mechanisms by which stress-related neuropeptide circuits contribute to drug-seeking, arousal, and homeostatic processes.


Click HERE for Will's CV
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Anne-Louise Peterson
Graduate Student




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Lisa Fly Hansen
Graduate Student




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Tawaun Lucas
Student Researcher




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Blue Sheffer
Student Researcher




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Kiara Vega
Student Researcher




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Lab Management

Sam Wong CPhT
Lab Manager & Life Science Technician II

Sam received her undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She hopes to further her education and pursue a career in pharmacy. Sam is interested in neuroscience, immunology, autoimmune diseases (particularly multiple sclerosis), and the pharmacology of different drugs. On her free time, she volunteers at the Stanford Arbor Clinic providing free healthcare to the unserved community. Her hobbies include playing the guitar and piano, drawing, ceramics, listening to music, and watching basketball. Most importantly, she enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Click HERE for Sam's CV
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Kerry Breuer
Lab Manager

A bay area native, Kerry joined the lab in 2006, likely due to her foreign language skills and prior experience at the Graduate School of Business. She actually holds a certificate in French business from the Paris Chambre of Commerce and taugt this class at her alma mater, Notre Dame de Namur University. She loves ordering lab supplies and learning about all the things scientists do with them. She wears many hats and is constantly running around the lab changing them. Outside the lab, you may see her volunteering at the French Cinema Club of Palo Alto, presenting about the writings of Nichiren Daishonin for a world peace movement, and teaching and performing world fusion dance. Her new passion is tai chi, but will always have a special place for dark chocolate.

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Asya Rolls
Postdoctoral Fellow

Asya's interest in sleep research originates in the question of how the body and especially the CNS achieve balance. She first asked this question as a graduate student at the Weizmann Institute in Israel where she studied how the immune system regulates CNS plasticity. As a postdoc at the de Lecea lab, Asya researches how sleep as a physiological state affects re-organization, restoration, and plasticity in the CNS and in the periphery. She attempts to address these questions at multiple levels of analysis from molecules to behavior, combining her training in molecular and cell biology, along with neuronal circuit dissection using optogenetics, electrophysiological analysis of sleep, and behavioral models of learning and memory. Outside of the lab, Asya enjoys spending time with her husband and her two kids. She loves San Francisco, enjoys movies and art, and aspires to get to the gym....

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Patricia Bonnavion
Postdoctoral Fellow

Patricia earned her Ph.D. in physiology and physiopathology in 2008 at the University Pierre & Marie Curie (UPMC) in Paris. Her research interests were initially oriented on the brainstem neural circuits governing sleep/wake transitions with a particular focus on the serotonin (5-HT) signaling. As she joined Luis de Lecea's lab as a postdoc fellow, she pursued studying the dynamic of arousal systems across vigilance states and in response to environmental & behavioral challenges that threaten and disrupt homeostasis. Her work focuses on the signal integration and high inter-connectivity of the lateral hypothalamus and monoaminergic neurons using combinations of optogenetics, behavior and EEG analysis.

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Matt Carter
Postdoctoral Fellow

Matt received his undergraduate degree in Biology from Whitman College and his Ph.D. from the Neurosciences program at Stanford University. Matt is generally interested in the neural basis of instinctive, homeostatic behaviors in mammals and enjoys using molecular and systems neuroscience tools (optogenetics, viral gene delivery, transgenics) to probe neural circuits. In the de Lecea lab, Matt focuses on the role of Hypocretin and Locus Coeruleus neurons in sleep/wake transitions and arousal-related behaviors. Outside of the lab, Matt also enjoys teaching and writing. At Stanford, he served as Head TA for NBio206: The Nervous System and started/taught NBio227: Understanding Techniques in Neuroscience. He also co-wrote the textbook "Guide to Research Techniques in Neuroscience." When he isn't working, Matt likes to spend time with his wife and newborn son, go to the gym, listen to audiobooks on his beloved iPhone, and watch classic movies.

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Jana Schaich Borg
Graduate Student, Neurosciences Ph.D. Program

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Tope Lanre-Amos
Medical Student

Tope studied Neurobiology at Harvard College with minors in psychology and Yoruba, a Nigerian language. After graduation, she feld the cold to attend Stanford University Medical School. A second year student, Tope opted to continue pursuing basic science out of personal curiousity and the possibility of studying the brain and disease from a complementary perspective. Tope is interested in the neural networks and circuits that underlie complex human behaviors, like attention and learning, which are often awry in disease states. When Tope isn't learning lab techniques or studying for the next exam, you can usually find her at Arbor Free Clinic, a yoga studio, or asleep on the nearest comfy surface.

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Hieu Nguyen
Lab Technician

Hieu grew up in San Jose, CA, and earned his undergraduate degrees in Molecular Cell Biology, Phsyiology, and Biology Education with honors (minoring in Chemistry and Microbiology) from California State University, Long Beach. Prior to starting at Stanford, Hieu worked with Andrew Mason at CSULB studying mechanisms of metal homeostasis and metabolism. He also worked with Simon Malcomber at CSULB studying plant systematic and evolutionary developmental genetics in the grass family. Since arriving at Stanford, he has immersed himself in the use of cutting-edge molecular tools (optogenetics, viral gene delivery, transgenics) to probe neural circuits. In the de Lecea lab, he focuses on the role of Hypocretin and Noradrenergic neurons in sleep/wake transitions and arousal-related behaviors. He has also worked on the role of Hypocretin and its effects on Stress as well as experiments in intersubjectivity behavioral studies. Hieu also enjoys coaching high school volleybal and playing the drums. In his spare time, Hieu likes to cook, play video games, and hanging out. In the future, Hieu hopes to start medical school and become an influential pediatrician.

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Simal Ozen
Postdoctoral Fellow

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