The lab studies the genetic and cellular function of the brain. The lab main research interests are neurodevelopment and neuroendocrinology with special emphasis on sleep and sleep disorders. To understand these processes, we combine the use of genetic manipulations, real-time 2-photon imaging of single molecules, organelles, and neurons, as well as video-tracking of behavior in live zebrafish. The zebrafish is a simple vertebrate with evolutionary conserved organization of the central nervous system. This unique transparent model is amenable for live imaging and highthroughput genetic and pharmacological experiments.

Our general goal is to link gene function with the development and plasticity of neuronal circuits that regulate specific behavior. In order to understand human brain disorders, we develop several zebrafish models. The function of genes and neuronal circuits is determined using loss-of-function (CRISPR-mediated genome editing as well as genetic silencing and ablation of a specific neuronal population) and gain-of-function (transposon-mediated transgenesis, pharmacology and optogenetics) experiments.


Sleep and sleep disorders: Sleep is an evolutionarily conserved process that is vital for animal survival. Sleep disturbances affect a large portion of the general population and represent a major health burden. Although sleep clearly improves brain performance, the function of sleep is unclear. We have characterized sleep, cloned sleep genes, visualized sleep circuits, and established zebrafish models for sleep disorders. We also found that sleep enable efficient nuclear maintenance of single neurons.


hcrt neurons in zebrafish larva

Neurodevelopmental disorders:
Neurodevelopmental disorders are characterized by cognitive, social, and motor deficits. The cause for these disorders is often genetic mutations that can lead to alteration in genetic pathways, neurogenesis, myelination, synaptic plasticity, and the activity of neural circuits. We established several zebrafish models for neurodevelopmental and endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism, fragile-x-syndrome, narcolepsy and epilepsy. These models are used to identify and characterize the genetic, neural and behavioral mechanisms of the disorders, and to test potential genetic and pharmaceutical treatments.


neuronal cells (red) and Mct8-expressing

Nerves, evolution and behavior in cnidarians:

We study the evolution and function of the nervous system in the ancient cnidarians (i.e. corals, jellyfish and sea anemone). We combine lab and field experiments, and use molecular and behavioral techniques to understand how a simple nerve net regulates behavior such as sleep.

Nematostella Vectensis
Dana Sagi
Amir Harduf.jpg
Yuval Raveh.jpeg


2019- whole head and single cell


2018- calcium imaging in the habenula


2017- synapses in dendrites near the eye


2016- Schwann cells wrapping motor neuro


2015-pentraxin 2a neurons in zebrafish l




2013- MCT8 expressed in the eye.tif


2012- single sensory neuron in the zebra


2011- glial cells (green) and neuronal c


2010- hcrt neurons in zebrafish


2002-2009 Publications