Research

As a graduate student in the lab of Horacio de la Iglesia at the University of Washington, my research took a multi-faceted approach to better understand how the brain regulates the timing and quality of sleep in both health and disease.

Sleep and Circadian Rhythm Disturbances in Epilepsy

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Actograms of sleep from a healthy mouse (left) and mouse with Dravet syndrome (right). Epileptic mice have fragmented sleep and impairments in th

As a student in the University of Washington Graduate Program in Neuroscience, I studed sleep and circadian rhythm disturbances in a genetic mouse model of Dravet syndrome, a form of childhood epilepsy accompanied by severe developmental delays and cognitive deficits. By selectively targeting the mutation that causes Dravet syndrome to neuronal populations involved in regulating sleep, I am working to uncover the cellular and circuit mechanisms underlying these disturbances in Dravet patients.

Machine Learning for Automatic Sleep Stage Scoring and Seizure Identification

As a Washington Research Foundation Innovation Graduate Fellow in Neuroengineering, I developed a Python-based software package called SIESTA (Sleep Identification Enabled by Supervised Training Algorithms), which uses machine learning for the automatic classification of sleep stages from rodent polysomnographic data. We plan to make this software freely available to researchers in the hopes that it will facilitate further study of the circadian regulation of sleep in pre-clinical models of disease. Currently, I am helping another graduate student in our lab adapt this method for use in automatic identification of epileptic events in both rodent and human populations.

Human Sleep Under Extreme Environmental Conditions

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Actogram showing sleep-wake patterns from one of our study participants experiencing homelessness. Black bars indicate periods of activity, blue shaded areas

In collaboration with physicians at Seattle Children’s Hospital, I am investigating non-invasive methods to monitor and improve sleep quality in pediatric ICU patients on ventilators. With a postdoctoral researcher in our lab, I am trying to understand how social isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic affects sleep timing and quality, mood and work habits. I do this using a combination of non-invasive wearable devices and technology use metadata (e.g. the timestamps of sent emails and mobile phone usage). I also work with the UW Sleep and Homelessness Project to use non-invasive wearable devices enabling chronic sleep monitoring to better understand how sleep quality is impacted in people experiencing homelessness in the Seattle area. Finally, I share the stories of our participants to bring greater public awareness about the health disparities faced by these vulnerable populations.

Preprints ahead of publication

Sanchez, R.*, Caldart, C.*, Ben-Hamo, M., Beck, A., Weil, T., Perez, J., Kalume, F., Brunton, B., de la Iglesia, H.O. (2020). Sleep Identification Enabled by Supervised Training Algorithms (SIESTA): An open-source platform for automatic sleep staging of rodent polysomnographic databiorXiv, July 2020

*Indicates co-first authorship

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Bussi, I., Sanchez, R., de la Iglesia, H. O. (2020). Vasopressin Neurons: Master Integrators of Time and HomeostasisTrends in Neurosciences, September 2020

Sanchez, R., Bussi, I., Ben-Hamo, M., Caldart, C., Catterall, W., de la Iglesia, H. O. (2019). Circadian regulation of sleep in a pre-clinical model of Dravet syndrome: Dynamics of sleep stage and siesta re-entrainment. SLEEP, December 2019

Padilla, S., Perez, J., Ben-Hamo, M., Johnson, C., Sanchez, R., Bussi, I., Palmiter, R., de la Iglesia, H. O. (2019).  Kisspeptin Neurons in the Arcuate Nucleus of the Hypothalamus Orchestrate Circadian Rhythms and Metabolism. Current Biology, February 2019

Selected Conference Presentations and Posters

Sanchez, R., Bussi, I., Catterall, W., de la Iglesia H.O. “The role of NaV1.1 sodium channel expression in the suprachiasmatic nucleus in circadian behavior and sleep regulation.” Society for Research on Biological Rhythms Virtual Meeting, June 2020

Caldart, C., Sanchez, R., Brunton, B., de la Iglesia, H. O. “SIESTA: A machine learning approach to automated sleep-stage scoring in rodents.” Society for Research on Biological Rhythms Virtual Meeting, June 2020

Caldart, C., Sanchez, R., Brunton, B., de la Iglesia, H. O. “SIESTA: A machine learning approach to automated sleep scoring in mice.” Poster, XV Latin American Symposium on Chronobiology, Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, October 2019

Sanchez, R., Bussi, I., Ben-Hamo, M., Caldart, C., Catterall, W., de la Iglesia, H. O. “Circadian regulation of sleep in a pre-clinical model of Dravet syndrome: Dynamics of sleep stage and siesta re-entrainment.” Poster – Winner of the 2019 LASC Sleep Science Prize, XV Latin American Symposium on Chronobiology, Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, October 2019

Sanchez, R., Bussi, I., Caldart, C., Brunton, B., de la Iglesia, H. O.  “Long-term continuous recording of sleep in a mouse model of epilepsy.” Talk, University of Washington Neural Computation and Engineering Connection, Seattle, Washington, January 2019

Sanchez, R., Bussi, I., Ben-Hamo, M., de la Iglesia, H. O. “Circadian regulation of sleep in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome”. Poster, Society for Neuroscience, San Diego, CA, November 2018

Sanchez, R., Bussi, I., Ben-Hamo, M., de la Iglesia, H. O. “Circadian regulation of sleep in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome”. Invited Talk, Society for Research on Biological Rhythms, Amelia Island Florida., May 2018

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