Dr Ed Harding


Midlife obesity and diabetes substantially increase the risk of dementia, but the mechanisms are unknown. In my current position in the Merkle laboratory I am attempting to understand the influence of obesity and diabetes on neurodegenerative processes and how these could be exploited to identify tractable drug targets

My research strategy has three components:

1) Understanding mechanisms that connect obesity and diabetes to neurodegeneration

2) Repurposing ‘old’ drugs as new treatments for dementia

3) New methods for automated and unbiased in vivo validation of new therapeutics

I primarily work with prion-induced neurodegenerative models combined with automated behavioural testing and “omics” technologies, including RNA-sequencing, lipidomics and peptidomics, as well as biochemistry, histology, multivariate analysis and machine learning.

Research Focus






Energy Balance

Clinical conditions

Alzheimer's disease


Metabolic Syndrome




Behavioural analysis

Computational modelling

Confocal microscopy

Fluorescence microscopy



No collaborators listed

Associated News Items

    Key publications

    Harding, EC; Ba, W, Zahir, R, Xiao Y, Yustos R, Hsieh B, Lignos L, Vyssotski AL, Merkle FT, Constandinou TG, Franks NP, Wisden W (2021), “Nitric oxide synthase neurons in the medial preoptic hypothalamus are sleep active and contribute to regulating NREM, REM sleep and body temperature profiles. ” Frontiers in Neuroscience

    Harding EC, Franks NP, Wisden W (2020), “Sleep and thermoregulation” Current Opinion in Physiology

    Harding EC, Franks NP, Wisden W (2019), “The Temperature dependence of Sleep” Frontiers in Neuroscience 13(336)

    Harding EC, Yu X, Miao A, Andrews N,,Ma Y, Ye Z, Lignos L, Miracca G, Ba W, Yustos R, Vyssotski AL, Wisden W, Franks NP (2018), “A Neuronal Hub Binding Sleep Initiation and Body Cooling in Response to a Warm External Stimulus” Current Biology 28(14): 2263-2273



    Harding EC, Zhang Z, Dong H and Yu X (2022), “Editorial: Behaviors and Neural Circuits in Sleep and Sedation” Frontiers in Neuroscience


    Yu X, Ba W, Zhao G, Ma Y, Harding EC, Ying L, Wang D, Li H, Zhang P, Shi Y, Yustos R, Vyssotski AL, Dong H, NP Franks, Wisden W (2020), “Dysfunction of ventral tegmental area GABA neurons causes mania-like behavior” Molecular Psychiatry 1-16


    Hsieh B, Harding EC, Wisden W, Franks NP, Constandinou TG (2019), “A Miniature Neural Recording Device to Investigate Sleep and Temperature Regulation in Mice” 2019 IEEE Biomedical Circuits and Systems Conference (BioCAS)

    Ma Y, Miracca G, Yu X, Harding EC, Miao A,Yustos R, Vyssotski AL, Franks NP, Wisden W (2019), “Galanin neurons unite sleep homeostasis and ?2-adrenergic sedation” Current Biology 29(19)3315-3322. e3

    Yu X, Li W, Ma Y, Tossell K, Harris JJ, Harding EC, Ba W, Miracca G, Wang D, Li L, Guo J, Chen M, Li Y, Yustos R, Vyssotski AL, Burdakov D, Yang Q, Dong H, Franks NP, Wisden W (2019), “GABA and glutamate neurons in the VTA regulate sleep and wakefulness” Nature Neuroscience 22(1):106-119

    Yu X, Ma Y, Harding EC, Yustos R, Vyssotski AL, Franks NP, Wisden W (2019), “Genetic lesioning of histamine neurons increases sleep–wake fragmentation and reveals their contribution to modafinil-induced wakefulness” Sleep 42(5). pii: zsz031


    Gelegen C, Miracca G, Ran MZ, Harding EC, Ye Z, Yu X, Tossell K, Houston CM, Yustos R, Hawkins ED, Vyssotski AL, Dong HL, Wisden W, Franks NP (2018), “Excitatory Pathways from the Lateral Habenula Enable Propofol-Induced Sedation” Current Biology 28(4):580-587


    Uygun DS, Ye Z, Zecharia AY, Harding EC, Yu X, Yustos R, Vyssotski AL, Brickley SG, Franks NP, Wisden W. (2016), “Bottom-Up versus Top-Down Induction of Sleep by Zolpidem Acting on Histaminergic and Neocortex Neurons” Journal of Neuroscience 36(44):11171-11184


    Zhang Z, Ferretti V, Güntan ?, Moro A, Steinberg EA, Ye Z, Zecharia AY, Yu X, Vyssotski AL, Brickley SG, Yustos R, Pillidge ZE, Harding EC, Wisden W, Franks NP. (2015), “Neuronal ensembles sufficient for recovery sleep and the sedative actions of ?2 adrenergic agonists” Nature Neuroscience 18(4):553-561


    Jégouzo SA, Harding EC, Acton O, Rex MJ, Fadden AJ, Taylor ME, Drickamer K (2014), “Defining the conformation of human mincle that interacts with mycobacterial trehalose dimycolate” 2014 24(12):1291-300