Office: Cordley 4026
Phone: (541) 737-5530
Ph.D. 1981 University of Warsaw
KEYWORDS: Regulation of Gene Expression; Molecular Basis of Biological Clocks; Drosophila; Circadian Rhythms; Oxidative Stress, Aging, Healthspan
Chronobiology is a rapidly expanding interdisciplinary field aimed to understand the mechanisms and functional significance of biological timing. All living organisms, from bacteria to humans, display circadian rhythms which synchronize life functions with environmental day/night cycles. These rhythms persist in constant conditions with near 24-h (circadian) period. A student who tries to study late into the night without falling asleep can realize the powerful nature of daily rhythms, such as rest/activity cycle! Circadian rhythms are controlled by molecular oscillators (clocks) formed by a network of clock genes, which are conserved from insects to humans. Our research is focused on fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster, an excellent model system to study clock genes and their functional significance. We use a system biology approach to identify clock-controlled genes by high-throughput sequencing (RNA-seq). Our goal is to identify the molecular cascades leading from clock genes to cellular and physiological rhythms via effector genes in the nervous system and other tissue. Our data suggest that clock genes may be involved in protecting the organism from stress, premature aging, and neurodegeneration. Our research may provide new insights into the bio-timing mechanisms related to human healthspan and longevity. Projects that are underway in the laboratory seek to 1) Define the mechanisms responsible for the dampening of circadian rhythms during aging. 2) Elucidate links between loss of clock function and increased oxidative damage in the nervous system. 3) Attempt to rejuvenate the circadian system in aging organisms by genetic and environmental manipulations, and study the effects of these manipulations on healthspan and longevity.