The MBM Program’s Principal Investigator, Dr. Martha Gillette, delivered the Beckman Institute Director’s Seminar March 7 on “The Clocks that Time Us: Dynamics in Brain Metabolism and Sleep.”
Abstract: Our behaviors—eating, learning, sleeping—are shaped by a clock in the brain. Circadian clocks, whose cellular processes mark the passage of time in 24-hr cycles, are fundamental components of life. They organize body functions around the major variable in the natural world, the daily cycle of darkness and light. This presentation will introduce 1) biological clocks to a general audience, 2) a newly discovered metabolic oscillator that governs excitability in the hypothalamus and hippocampus, and 3) a new role for sleep in clearing waste and toxins from the brain. This work has important health applications. Malfunctioning of the master circadian timing system results in brain and organ dysfunctions, such as clinical disorders of sleep, mental health, and neural degeneration.