Seminar by Prof. Fred W. Turek "Mechanisms Linking Circadian Clocks to Sleep, Feeding Cycles, Seasonal Rhythms, and the Impact of Artificial Light at Night on Human Rhythms"


Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - 13:30 to 15:30


C209, Center Building




Mechanisms Linking Circadian Clocks to Sleep, Feeding Cycles, Seasonal Rhythms, and the Impact of Artificial Light at Night on Human Rhythms


The “Master Circadian Clock” in mammals is in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN regulates two “Master Circadian Rhythms”: the 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, and the 24-hour feed-fast cycle. Collectively, these three rhythmic processes regulate 24-hour timing in all cellular, organ, and physiological systems. This seminar will focus on the mechanism linking the master clock to the master rhythms and how they integrate timing at different levels of organization (e.g., seasonal rhythms), and how humans are the only species on the planet earth that voluntarily disrupt the normal 24-hour organization, and routinely override the normal exposure to the 24-hour light cycle. Particular focus will be on the adverse effects of the disruption of normal circadian organization on modern life and health, including shift work, social jet lag, exposure to artificial light at night, social media, and even spaceflight and the planned mission to Mars. 


Professor Fred W. Turek, PhD

Charles E. & Emma H. Morrison Professor of Biology, Northwestern University

Director, Center for Sleep & Circadian Biology

Dr. Fred Turek graduated from Stanford University, in 1973, receiving a PhD in biological sciences from Dr. Colin Pittendrigh. He then completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas with Michael Menaker, where he studied in the Department of Zoology from 1973 to 1975 before becoming an Assistant Professor at Northwestern University in 1975. He is presently the Director of the Center for Sleep & Circadian Biology and is the Charles & Emma Professor of Biology in the Department of Neurobiology; he holds joint appointments in the Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Turek was the founder and first President of the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms (SRBR) from 1987-1992 and he served on the Sleep Research Society Board of Directors from 2011-2014. He has served as a consultant to various government agencies, most notably the DOD, NASA and the NIH, as well as to various other universities and pharmaceutical companies. Research in the Turek laboratory is focused on the study of sleep and circadian rhythms, primarily in rodents, with special interest in identifying genes that regulate sleep and circadian rhythms. He has published over 370 original scientific articles and reviews. In addition to research using rodent models, the Turek laboratory has established extensive collaborations with clinical researchers. Studies in humans are aimed at shifting the human clock in an attempt to alleviate mental and physical problems that are associated with disorders in circadian time­keeping, particularly in the elderly and in shift-workers engaged in the maritime industry. These studies also designed to mitigate fatigue and improve performance under conditions of disrupted sleep and rhythms, including the use of napping strategies. Turek’s sleep, circadian and metabolic studies are focused on how disruption in these interactions can lead to obesity, diabetes, CVD. His most recent human work involves studying the microbiome of identical twin astronauts, one on the ground and the other on the International Space Station (ISS) and his lab has also carried out a mission, launched in 2018, studying the microbiome of mice onboard the ISS. 

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