Research EN

Research

Who we are and what we do

We hope to improve understanding of sleep-related risk factors for brain development. It is our vision that the identification of sleep-related risks in early life finds translation into novel approaches to ultimately reduce developmental disorders and improve mental health.

What is good sleep?

There is no simple response. Large parts of sleep still remain a mystery.
  • How does young children’s sleep generally work?
  • What is “good” and “poor” sleep?
  • How can infants and young children get healthy sleep?
We need YOUR HELP to better understand!

Our goal

Sleep rhythm in infants and young children is the core interest of our research lab.
  • How are newborns starting to develop a rhythm of sleep at night and wake during the day?
  • Which factors support the regulation of healthy sleep?
  • Which factors counteract the development of sleep regulation?

To discover answers, we investigate the relationships between sleep rhythm, nutrition, family context and their dynamics across the early period of the human lifespan.

Our Research Projects

Across the first years of life the human brain experiences its greatest anatomical and functional modifications. These are closely reflected in the electroencephalogram (EEG) recorded during sleep. We increasingly understand how neuronal maturation processes are linked to sleep behavior.

It is still unclear however,
  • which parameters of infant sleep behavior represent a health risk for brain development and
  • whether early sleep patterns are a trait and thus persist throughout later life. Further,
  • the relationship between sleep and the gut bacteria remains understudied. Gut bacteria are increasingly recognized as a health marker, they evolve rapidly throughout the first months of life and seem to be linked to brain plasticity and behavior.

Our studies take place in the larger areas of Fribourg and Zurich. We are using creative family-friendly methods to record sleep in infants (and sometimes also parents) at their own homes. Methods include high spatial resolution electroencephalography during sleep, actimetry, neurodevelopment, 16S rRNA, sleep diaries and questionnaires.

A Strong Team

Our work ethic is the most important asset to successful teamwork

team member

Salome Kurth Principal Investigator

Salome Kurth studied Biology at the University of Berne, obtained her PhD in sleep research and neuroscience from the University of Zurich, spent a postdoctoral period at the University of Colorado Boulder, USA, and is currently head of the Baby Sleep Lab in Zurich and in Fribourg. She is interested in the connection between sleep and brain development, and particularly in the potential of supporting sleep regulation in early life in order to support strong health outcomes later in life.

E-mail to Salome

Being honest. Focusing on solutions. Accepting accountability for our work. Communicating regularly. Lifting each other up.

team member

Andjela Markovic Postdoctoral Fellow

Andjela Markovic received her BSc in Computer Science and her MSc in Biomedical Engineering from the ETH Zurich and her Piano Teaching Diploma from the Swiss Academy of Music and Music Pedagogy. During her PhD in neurosciences at the University of Bern, she studied the association between sleep, development and mental health. She is currently employed as a postdoctoral fellow at the Baby Sleep Lab and interested in factors affecting brain development, in particular sleep.

E-mail to Andjela

team member

Matthieu Beaugrand PhD Student

Matthieu Beaugrand received his BSc in Biology from the University of Grenoble Alpes, and his MSc in Clinical Neurosciences and Neuropsychology from University Paul Sabatier of Toulouse.
Matthieu is studying the evolution of EEG maturational markers in poor and healthy sleep throughout the first year of human life and its association with cognitive development and gut bacteria. On his free time, Matthieu likes swimming and practicing water polo. Also, he is promoting culture with friends. (e.g. organization of concert, movie diffusion, board game night, … ).

E-mail to Matthieu

team member

Christophe Mühlematter PhD Student

Christophe is a PhD student with a MSc in Psychology from the University of Lausanne. Passionate about the links between biology and psychology, he followed every course he could about human biology to try and get a broader understanding of humans as a whole. This interest translates in his research project which focuses on studying how the development of sleep in infants is influenced by the gut microbiota. He is especially interested in understanding the way the diet and antibiotics intake can interact with the gut microbiota to affect sleep.

E-mail to Christophe

team member

Valentine Horii Intern at Master Level

Valentine received her BSc in Psychology from the University of Fribourg. She is pursuing a MSc in cognitive neuroscience with a minor in clinical psychology and is planning to continue with a MAS in neuropsychology. She is currently achieving an internship within the team. She is interested in the effects of sleep on cognitive development, and particularly in the potential protective aspects of sleep. In her free time, Valentine enjoys swimming, cooking and playing music.

E-mail to Valentine

team member

Sarah Schoch PhD Student

Sarah Schoch is a fourth-year doctoral student in Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Zurich. She completed her MSc in Psychology at the University of Zurich. Sarah is studying how sleep and the gut microbiome develop in the first year of life in a large longitudinal study. She is additionally interested in improving research methodology (e.g. actigraphy) and the scientific process. In her free time, Sarah enjoys dancing, baking and playing board and video games.

E-mail to Sarah

team member

Océane Minot Master Student

Océane Minot completed her BSc in Psychology at the University of Fribourg. She is now a master student in Psychology with a strong interest in Neuroscience. Her general interest is the relationship between brain development and well-being of the individual. In her master thesis, she investigates infant’s sleep and its variations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, Océane is taking classes at the University of Genève to obtain the MAS in Neuropsychology. During her free time, Océane enjoys playing music, volleyball and reading.

E-mail to Océane

team member

Debora Castiglioni Master Student

Debora received her BSc in Psychology at the University of Fribourg. Given her interest in the connections between brain and behavior, she is now a MSc student in Cognitive Neuroscience. She also attends courses in Neuropsychology at the University of Geneva. As part of her Master's Thesis at the Baby Sleep Laboratory Debora investigates the variability in the maturation of sleep regulation in infants and the cultural differences in relation to sleep.

E-mail to Debora

Former Team Members

Fiona Pugin
Juliane Berger
Lara Barblan
Melanie Auer
Monika Stoller
Rita Grolimund
Sina Boschert-Hennrich
Vanesa Rocha
Viktoria Gastens

Funding

  • Swiss National Science Foundation
  • University of Zurich
    • Faculty of Medicine
    • Forschungskredit PostDoc
    • Foundation for Research in Science and the Humanities
    • Clinical Research Priority Program: Sleep & Health
  • Jacob’s Foundation
  • Olga Mayenfisch Foundation
  • EMDO Foundation
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