Peng Lab

Location and Contact Information

701 West 168th Street, 5-513
New York, NY 10032
United States

Principal Investigators

Sleep is a fundamental biological process ubiquitously conserved in the animal kingdom. Growing evidence emphasizes the importance of sleep to our mental and physical health. Yet, little is known about how the brain initiates, maintains, and terminates sleep states. The goal of our research is to understand the circuit and molecular mechanisms underlying sleep regulation in both normal and diseased brains. We use a multidisciplinary approach including electrophysiology, calcium imaging, optogenetics, chemogenetics, pharmacology, viral-based neural tracing, molecular biology, and mouse genetics to study the neurobiology of sleep in animal models. In addition, we will take advantage of next-generation sequencing techniques to identify genetic variants associated with human sleep disorders, such as insomnia and hypersomnia.

In collaboration with other faculty members at the Institute for Genomic Medicine (IGM) and Columbia, we are also interested in understanding the relationship between sleep disruption and neuropsychiatric disorders. Specifically, we focus on epilepsy and mood disorders. We aim to identify common neuropathological mechanisms underlying abnormal sleep and brain diseases.

Current projects

  • Dissecting brain circuits controlling the transition between sleep and wakefulness
  • Identification of genes and signaling molecules that initiate and maintain sleep states
  • Exploring circuit abnormalities underlying nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy

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Lab Members

  • Sasa Teng, PhD

    Postdoctoral Research Scientist

    Education and Training

    BS, 2009, Jilin University, Changchun, China
    PhD, 2014, Peking University, Beijing, China

    Prior to joining the Peng Lab, Sasa worked as a postdoctoral fellow in Guang Yang’s lab (2015-2018) at the New York University medical center. My long-term research interest is to study the neural circuits controlling the transition between wakefulness and sleep. I have a strong medical and biological background and solid training in neuroscience field during my graduate study and my previous postdoc training. We use a multidisciplinary approach including electrophysiology, calcium imaging, optogenetics, chemogenetics, pharmacology, viral-based neural tracing, molecular biology, and mouse genetics to study the neurobiology of sleep.

    Headshot of Sasa Teng
  • Fenghua Zhen, PhD

    Postdoctoral Research Scientist

    Education and Training

    BS, 2002, Shanghai JiaoTong University, Shanghai, China
    PhD, 2008, National University of Singapore, Singapore

    I received my PhD in developmental biology from National University of Singapore and worked as a postdoctoral fellow in Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. I have a strong background on molecular cell biology and microscopy analysis, including gene-modification, transgenic animal manipulation, and in vivo microscopy imaging in living animals. I joined Dr. Peng’s lab as a postdoctoral research scientist in 2018. I am interested in the molecular and cellular mechanism controlling the initiation/transition from wakefulness to sleep, as well as the maintenance or switching between REM and NREM sleep. My current projects are focused to identify genetic-specific neuron cell types and their downstream projecting targets that involved in the initiation of sleep.

    Headshot of Fenghua Zhen
  • Therande Jashari

    Research Assistant

    Therande is a student at Columbia College volunteering in the lab.

    Headshot of Therande Jashari
  • Elaine Zhu

    Research Assistant

    Elaine is a student at Columbia University volunteering in the lab.

    Headshot of Elaine Zhu

Select Publications

  • Wang L, Gillis-Smith S, Peng Y, Zhang J, Chen X, Salzman CD, Ryba NJ, Zuker CS. (2018). The coding of valence and identity in the mammalian taste system. Nature 558(7708), 127-131.

  • Yarmolinsky DA, Peng Y, Pogorzala LA, Rutlin M, Hoon MA, Zuker CS. (2016) Coding and plasticity in the mammalian thermosensory system. Neuron 92(5), 1079-92.

  • Peng Y, Gillis-Smith S, Jin H, Tränkner D, Ryba NJ, Zuker CS. (2015). Sweet and bitter taste in the brain of awake behaving animals. Nature 527(7579), 512-5.

  • Chen X, Gabitto M, Peng Y, Ryba NJ, Zuker CS. (2011). A gustotopic map of taste qualities in the mammalian brain. Science, 333(6047), 1262-6.

  • Lu S, Fang J, Guo A, Peng Y. (2009) Impact of network topology on decision-making. Neural Networks. 22(1), 30-40.

  • Peng Y, Xi W, Zhang W, Zhang K, Guo A. (2007) Experience improves feature extraction in Drosophila. Journal of Neuroscience. 27, 5139-5145.

  • Peng Y, Guo A. (2007) Novel stimulus-induced calcium efflux in Drosophila mushroom bodies. European Journal of Neuroscience. 25(7), 2034-44.

  • Zhang K, Guo JZ, Peng Y, Xi W, Guo A. (2007) Dopamine-mushroom body circuit regulates saliency-based decision-making in Drosophila. Science. 316(5833), 1901-4.