I studied biology at the Free University Berlin and completed a PhD in biology at the Charite, Humboldt University Berlin, studying the ontogeny of circadian rhythms and sleep in neonates, their temporal adaptation to, and their influence on the well-established parental sleep-wake patterns. In 2002 I joined the group of Russell Foster at Imperial College London on a EU Marie Curie Fellowship to establish new links between basic circadian science and human clinical sleep research, studying abnormal sleep and circadian rhythms in patients with mental disorders. I am currently Senior Research Scientist at the University of Oxford with particular interest in the relationship between chronobiology of sleep and emotional processing in mood and cognitive disorders.
Periods of sleep and activity are timed to occur at specific phases of the day: We are active during the day and sleep during the night. Inappropriately timed periods of sleep and activity can greatly compromise our well-being and quality of life. In our field studies on sleep disturbances in patients with mental problems, we found striking timing abnormalities in physiology and sleep-wake behaviour.
The aims of our research are to elucidate the links between circadian processes, sleep and emotions, to understand the function of sleep for mental well-being, and to define how such insight can be used for therapeutic interventions. We are developing experimental approaches aimed at identifying correlates of emotional processing during sleep.