Dr Raffaele Sarnataro

Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics


Dr Raffaele Sarnataro is a Postdoctoral Research Scientist in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at Oxford University investigating the molecular machinery and cellular biology of sleep control.

Sleep is vital and universal, yet its essential biological functions remain elusive. A mysterious but crucial benefit must be provided, in order to balance the enormous risks to which an animal is exposed each time it disconnects from the external world during sleep, An internal process that generates sleep pressure is tracked by a sleep homeostat, which operates the periodic discharge of this pressure by initiating sleep.

Dr Sarnataro’s research aims at understanding the molecular nature of sleep pressure and its regulation by the homeostat: this will provide important clues about the physiological variables linked to the essential function of sleep.

During his doctoral research in Oxford, Dr Sarnataro has been using a comprehensive toolbox of cutting-edge research approaches to investigate the role of sleep-control neurons, and further elucidate how sleep is physically encoded in their molecular machinery and circuitry network dynamics.

Before his doctoral studies, he did research at the University of Oxford, Harvard Medical School, and Scuola Normale Superiore. He was trained at Scuola Normale Superiore, University of Pisa and University of Oxford, obtaining an BSc, two MScs, a Diploma di Licenza and a PhD.

Dr Sarnataro was President of Oxford University Cortex Club (2019-2020); a unique student-led educational forum dealing with cutting-edge topics and significant issues in neuroscience where he organised and hosted seminars and panel discussions with local and world-renowned neuroscientists, launched new seminar series and collaborations with the University of Cape Town, Cambridge and King’s College London, and secured grants from the Biochemical Society and the British Neuroscience Association.

In 2016, he was selected as one of the 100 'The Future Makers' participants, from more than 1,200 Italian students for a leadership programme organised by the Boston Consulting Group, featuring with the Italian Prime Minister, managers, CEOs, IT experts, directors of non-profit organisations, and BCG senior partners, covering topics including global trends, digital development, leadership, geopolitics, future and social issues.

Dr Sarnataro has been a member of CEST (Centre for Excellence and Transdisciplinary Studies), which aims to enhance excellence in research and promote interactions between academia and public opinion, and was Board member of the Scuola Normale Superiore university alumni association. He is also collaborator at Amgen Biotech Experience, ANISN (National Association of Natural Science Teachers) and was a Jury member at the 29th International Biology Olympiad (2018).

He has been tutoring talented students in neuroscience and biology, via platforms including Oxford Summer Courses and Edusogno.