Université de Strasbourg

USIAS Public Lecture - The Man Who Had an Upside-Down Circadian Clock

Le 2 juillet 2018
De 15h30 à 17h00
Salle de conférence, MISHA, 5 allée du Général Rouvillois, Strasbourg

By William Schwartz, Professor of Neurology and Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin

I saw a patient in the clinic who said he found me on the internet. He was suffering from a debilitating sleep disorder and wanted to know if it was a problem with an “upside-down circadian clock.”

The circadian clock is an internal timekeeping mechanism that governs daily rhythms ranging from enzymatic activity to sleep-wake behaviour. The hypothalamus is the site of the "master" circadian pacemaker of mammals, its oscillation synchronised to the natural day-night cycle by the alternation of environmental light and darkness; in turn, the master clock orchestrates the clocks of individual cells, tissues, and organs throughout the body. At the core of this system is a set of “clock genes” coding for proteins that rhythmically inhibit their own expression.  

Our knowledge of circadian timekeeping of organisms at the molecular and cellular levels is remarkable. In this lecture, I will show how a diagnosis of this gentleman’s “upside-down” clock can be made and a rational treatment plan designed, all based on translating our knowledge of basic circadian biology from the bench to the bedside. The eventual outcome of this case should be of interest to everyone.

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