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Lukas Krone

Lukas Krone


Dr Lukas Krone is a sleep neuroscientist and clinical somnologist. Originally a medical doctor from Germany, he now works as Sir Henry Wellcome Fellow between the Universities of Oxford (UK), Bern (CH), and Madison-Wisconsin (USA).

Dr. Krone completed the preclinical part of medical school in his hometown, Würzburg (DE), achieving a percentile rank of 99.9% in the nationwide exam. He continued his medical studies with electives and research internships in Germany, Australia, Spain, Switzerland, the USA, and the UK, eventually earning a first-class medical degree from the University of Freiburg (DE). It was at the Sleep Medicine Centre Freiburg that he initiated his foray into sleep research through an MD project investigating the effects of non-invasive brain stimulation on sleep in both healthy volunteers and patients with insomnia.

Supported by a Wellcome Trust Doctoral Studentship, he pursued an MSc in Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, delving into the investigation of sleep regulatory mechanisms in fruit flies and mice, for which he won the Sherrington Prize in Neuroscience as the best student in class. During his DPhil project, conducted between the labs of Prof Vladyslav Vyazovskiy and Prof Zoltán Molnár under co-supervision by Prof Colin Akerman, his work revealed an essential role for the cerebral cortex in sleep regulation.

Subsequently, Dr Krone was awarded a stipendiary Junior Research Fellowship at Merton College Oxford and a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship, allowing him to expand his work on the cellular mechanisms and neuronal circuits of cortical sleep regulation. His fellowship project is hosted by the lab of Prof Gero Miesenböck at the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour and two international sponsors, Prof Antoine Adamantidis (University of Bern, CH) and Prof Chiara Cirelli (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA).

Dr Krone was president of the Oxford Neuroscience Society Cortex Club from 2017 to 2019. He represented the Free State of Bavaria at the 2011 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting and the University of Oxford at the 2021 Global Young Scientists Summit. His research has been bolstered by several competitive scholarships including the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes, the Max-Weber-Programm Bayern, the Goodger and Schorstein Scholarship by the Medical Science Division Oxford, and a Mann Senior Scholarship in Physiology and Medicine by Hertford College Oxford. Among several prizes and awards he received the early investigator awards of the German, European, and World Sleep Society.

His long-term career aspirations include advancing our understanding of the regulation and functions of sleep. The aim of this basic research undertaking is to enable targeted modulation of sleep in humans. As a clinician-scientist, he seeks not only to treat the patients of today but also to cure the patients of tomorrow. Additionally, he is working towards joining the European Space Agency Astronaut Corps to conduct research projects on sleep, circadian rhythms, and hibernation aboard the International Space Station.

His personal goal is to contribute to a healthy research environment in which scientific knowledge flourishes through equal opportunities, scientific rigor, transparency, and collaboration. To achieve this goal, Dr Krone actively engages in mentoring, teaching, public outreach, mental health campaigns, and open science initiatives.

Lukas B. Krone

Dr. med., MSc & DPhil (Oxon.), Somnologist - expert in sleep medicine

Sir Henry Wellcome Fellow

Research Summary

The regulation and function of sleep is one of the largest mysteries of biology. Our everyday experience as well as experimental evidence unequivocally indicate that sleeping is vital. However, on a neurobiological level the core mechanisms and function of sleep have so far evaded the grasp of scientific exploration. In particular, we still miss a molecular interpretation of sleep pressure and the mechanisms underlying its accumulation and discharge – a process termed sleep homeostasis. 

My research demonstrated that the cerebral cortex plays an important role in both vigilance state control and sleep homeostasis. During my MD project, we found that transcranial direct current stimulation, which modulates neocortical excitability, affects total sleep time in healthy human volunteers in a polarity- and area-specific manner. Based on this finding, I postulated that corticothalamic loops are involved in the control of sleep and wakefulness. My DPhil project showed that silencing a subset of neocortical layer 5 pyramidal and archicortical dentate gyrus granule cells in mice markedly increases wakefulness and reduces the homeostatic response to sleep deprivation. These findings suggest that the cortex integrates local signals of sleep need and orchestrates the global homeostatic response. This is contrary to the prevailing view that the subcortical nuclei which constitute a ‘sleep switch’ also sense the accumulation of sleep pressure.

The rapid development of methods for the in vivo manipulation of molecular processes, cellular activity, and brain state heralds a new era in which the neurobiological drivers and effects of sleep are likely to be revealed. My fellowship project aims to test specific cellular mechanisms and delineate neural circuits of sleep homeostasis in the mouse brain by precisely manipulating cortical neurons and their postsynaptic partners. My long-term goal as a basic neuroscientist and practicing clinician is to make the physiological processes underlying the homeostatic regulation of sleep in the cortex amenable to precise pharmacological and electroceutical therapeutic interventions.

Science Communication

How the brain’s ‘hourglass’ controls your need for sleep (08/2021)

Science communication article in The Conversation accompanying the publication Krone et al. (2021), Nature Neuroscience, “A role for the cortex in sleep–wake regulation”.

The cortical regulation of sleep (10/2022)

Public science lecture at the Oxford Medical Lecture Club.

Brain stimulation – a novel treatment for insomnia? (11/2023)

Factsheet for the Sleep Science Friday by the European Sleep Research Society accompanying the publication Krone et al. (2023), Journal of Sleep Research, “Brain stimulation techniques as novel treatment options for insomnia: A systematic review”.

Switch, clock, and hourglass – elucidating the mechanisms of sleep regulation
to advance sleep medicine

Science communication article in Oxford Medicine explaining the need for basic research into the molecular and cellular regulation of sleep to advance sleep medicine. The article was featured on the cover page of the 2023 winter edition with a title image 'Orchestration of sleep' created by Dr Kristoffer Féher and conceptualised by Dr Lukas Krone. 

Key publications

Recent publications

More publications