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Biology Lecture Investigates the Science of Sleep

By Clarke News  |  September 19, 2023
Biology Guest Lecturer Chiara Cirelli

The Clarke University Biology program welcomes Professor of Psychiatry and leading sleep researcher Dr. Chiara Cirelli to campus on Wednesday, October 4 at 7:30 p.m. in Jansen Music Hall. Her lecture, entitled, “The Burden of Wake and the Reasons for Sleep” will be presented as part of the annual Mary Murphy, BVM Endowed Lecture in Biology Series.

Dr. Cirelli will share insights into the science of sleep and its importance for our brain chemistry, memory, and adaptability as humans. Her research focuses on the Synaptic Homeostasis Hypothesis, which proposes that sleep allows the brain to renormalize after the intensity of daily activities. Dr. Cirelli will discuss her current work as well as her future research plans.

While pursuing her medical degree and Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Pisa, Italy,  Dr. Cirelli investigated the role of the noradrenergic system in sleep regulation. She continued this work as a Fellow at the Neuroscience Institute in San Diego, California, and later joined the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where she currently serves as a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. Her laboratory aims at understanding the function of sleep and clarifying the functional consequences of sleep loss.

Dr. Cirelli has published over 150 papers and received many awards for her original and sustained contributions to sleep research, including the 2017 Farrell Prize in Sleep Medicine from Harvard Medical School, the 2022 Pisa Sleep Award from Pisa University, and the 2023 Distinguished Scientist Award from the Sleep Research Society.

“We feel honored to have Dr. Cirelli serve as the 2023 Mary Murphy lecturer,” said Clarke Associate Professor of Biology Laura Hecker. “The experimental techniques and methods used by Dr. Cirelli are ones we discuss and use in our biology courses. Her research on sleep should be of interest not only to our students at Clarke but also to the broader community.”