Research Centers and Programs

Ramirez Lab

Pursuing Cures for Neurological Disorders

The Ramirez Lab investigates brain functions in order to develop new ways to treat – and potentially cure – neurological disorders.

We are particularly interested in how neurons form into networks, and how those networks turn on and off to create rhythms that direct the brain – and the body – to perform different functions.

We take a collaborative approach to research, teaming up with experts in different disciplines – from genetics to biology to engineering – to study brain disorders and pursue cures. Our current research includes:

Unraveling the mechanisms that control breathing

We discovered the neuronal network that controls gasping, which helps animals and people take in air and survive when they’re starved of oxygen. Now we’re pinpointing the networks that control other aspects of breathing. This research is helping us understand sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and erratic breathing in children with Rett syndrome, epilepsy and other disorders.

Working to prevent SIDS

We are collaborating with Dr. Daniel Rubens to study how inner ear problems contribute to SIDS. Rubens was the first researcher to discover that newborns with inner ear damage face higher SIDS risk. Our work could lead to new ways to prevent SIDS.

Studying how media use impacts brain development

We are teaming up with Dr. Dimitri Christakis and his lab to investigate how television and media impact brain development. Our initial research showed that too much media exposure can trigger attention problems in mice.

Addressing attention and impulse control disorders

Tourette syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder and other conditions are united by a key thread: Affected children can’t control unwanted behaviors. We’re unraveling how the brain controls impulses and attention, and are studying promising therapies that correct these problems in mice.

Understanding fatal seizures

We are collaborating with Dr. Franck Kalume and his lab to understand the causes of a fatal condition called sudden and unexpected death in epilepsy, and find ways to prevent it.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ramirez Lab’s research and publications, please visit our University of Washington website.

Lab News

Publication Q&A: Brain Researchers Offer Insights into Brainstem Region’s Role in Chronic Low Oxygen Levels, Disrupted Swallow
May 2024 – Continuing earlier work, a Center for Integrative Brain Research team provides new understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying disordered swallow.  

Discovering Patterns in the Neural Activity Powering Breathing
January 19, 2024 – Scientists in Seattle Children’s Center for Integrative Brain Research produced a first-ever population-level analysis of neural activity underlying breathing.

Brainstem Region Revealed to Play Role in Regulating Swallow, Breathing
June 30, 2023 – Seattle Children’s researchers revealed novel insights about PiCo, a brainstem region that aids the coordination of swallowing and breathing.

How does the brain coordinate swallowing and breathing?
July 14, 2022 – In their paper published in PNAS, Alyssa Huff and Nino Ramirez are the first to discover the neural pathways involved in swallow-breathing coordination

Answering a Century-Old Question: How Do Gas Anesthetics Work in the Brain?
June 9, 2022 – In their paper published in Current Biology, Seattle Children's researchers are the first to discover how gas anesthetics cause unconsciousness at the cellular level.

Investigator Biography

Contact Us

Physical Address

Center for Integrative Brain Research
1900 Ninth Ave.
Seattle, WA 98101