Neuroscientist and Sleep Neurophysiologist
Chiara Cirelli studied medicine at the University of Pisa and took a PhD in Neuroscience from Scuola Superiore S. Anna di Pisa. She studied the functions of sleep at the Institute of Neuroscience in San Diego, California at first and then at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she currently teaches neurophysiology of sleep and conducts experiments on animal models and humans to explain the essential role of sleep in the brain functioning. Her laboratory has been the first to use molecular screening methods to identify important genes in sleep regulation. Together with Giulio Tononi, she has developed the hypothesis of synaptic homeostasis according to which sleep is the price to be paid for allowing the brain to remain plastic and learn during waking. In 2017, with Giulio Tononi, she was awarded the Farrell prize by the University of Harvard for their contribution to the study of sleep. In 2018, she received the Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award from the American Society of Sleep Medicine.