Yang Dan is a neurobiologist recognized for her work on the neural circuits controlling behavior, in particular her contributions to understanding the microcircuits underlying cortical computation, cellular mechanisms for functional plasticity, and neural circuits controlling sleep. Dan was born in Beijing and studied physics as an undergraduate student at Peking University. She received her Ph.D. training in Biological Sciences at Columbia University, where she worked on cellular mechanisms of neurotransmitter secretion and synaptic plasticity. She did her postdoctoral research on information coding in the visual system at Rockefeller University and Harvard Medical School. She became a faculty member in 1997 and is now a Paul Licht Distinguished Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Yang Dan's laboratory is interested in understanding the neural circuits controlling both innate and learned behaviors. Using a combination of electrophysiology, imaging, and computational methods, they have demonstrated distinct roles of different genetically defined subtypes of cortical neurons in visual coding, top-down attentional modulation, and working memory. Dan?s recent interest is to understand the neural circuits controlling sleep, a fundamental biological process with strong impact on human health. Using novel techniques to target genetically defined cell types for recording and manipulation, her team has identified key neuronal circuits for the generation of both rapid-eye-movement (REM) and non-REM sleep. The identification of sleep neurons allows them to induce or terminate sleep effectively, which also provides a powerful tool for understanding the functions of sleep.

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Primary Section

Section 24: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Secondary Section

Section 28: Systems Neuroscience