Principal Investigator: Dr. Ko-Fan Chen 

From July 2020, I started my first independent academic position at the University of Leicester.  I grew up in Changhua, a city not so dissimilar to Leicester, in the middle of Taiwan. I completed my Biology and Physiology BSc/MSc in National Cheng Kung University in Tainan. Always fascinated by how organism adapt their behaviour in response to the environment, I embarked on a PhD studying neurogenetic mechanisms underlying light entrainment of circadian rhythm in Drosophila in Ralf Stanewsky's Lab, then in QMUL in London, UK. This move to Europe also suited my aspiration to explore the different cultures that shaped Taiwan's modern history. After completing my PhD, I worked as a postdoc in Damian Crowther's lab at the University of Cambridge, and then in James Jepson’s lab in the UCL Institute of Neurology. During this period, I expanded my research expertise into medical subjects including neurodegeneration and sleep. Since starting in Leicester, I have aimed to use Drosophila as a model to address how environmental factors, such as light control sleep profile, and how sleep may modulate progress of human diseases.  

Impact statement

At least 30% of adult humans suffer from some form of sleep problem. Sleep abnormalities are also associated with neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases. A major task in sleep research is to quantify the complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors in sleep disorders. Daylight regimes and circadian clock modulate sleep quality and the progression of neurodegeneration. However, the underlying modulation steps and molecular-neural pathways remain largely unknown. The fruit fly Drosophila is a powerful and economical research model to identify molecular mechanisms.  I plan to apply my expertise in fly genetics, circadian and sleep biology, molecular neuroscience and bioinformatics to address the mentioned knowledge gap. 

Employment History

07/2020-present Lecturer in Neurogenetics

Department of Genetics and Genome Biology, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK

04/2015-06/2020 Post-doctoral Research Associate

Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy, UCL Institute of Neurology, London, UK.

Project: Investigating molecular and neural mechanisms underlying Drosophila sleep. 

PI: Dr. James Jepson

02/2012-02/2015 Post-doctoral Research Associate

Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Project: Investigating the molecular and neuronal basis underlying the circadian abnormalities in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) model flies. 

PI: Dr. Damian Crowther

Key Publication

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