Wednesday, Dec 1, 2010, 7 PM

Russell G. Foster

Head, Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology; Senior Kurti Fellow, Brasenose College, University of Oxford

Light, Biological Clocks, and the Healthy Brain

Gesprächsleitung: Prof. Dr. Achim Kramer, Berlin

Our lives are ruled by time and we use time to tell us what to do. But the digital alarm clock that wakes us in the morning or the wrist-watch that tells us we are late for supper are unnatural clocks. Our biology answers to a profoundly more ancient beat that probably started to tick early in our evolution. Embedded within the genes of us, and almost all life on earth, are the instructions for a biological clock that marks the passage of 24 hours. Biological clocks or circadian clocks help time our sleep patterns, alertness, mood, physical strength, blood pressure and much more. Under normal conditions we experience a 24 hour pattern of light and dark, and our circadian clock uses this signal to align (entrain) biological time to the day and night. The clock is then used to anticipate the differing demands of the 24 hour day. Body temperature drops, blood pressure decreases, cognitive performance declines and tiredness increases in anticipation of going to bed. Whilst before dawn this process is reversed. This presentation will consider the mechanisms of how this “day within” is generated and regulated by light and will review how our health can be affected when this system becomes disrupted (e.g. shift work) or stops functioning normally (e.g. schizophrenia).

Russell G. Foster lehrt und forscht in der Abteilung für Ophthalmologie der Medizinischen Fakultät der Universität Oxford. Zuvor hatte er den Lehrstuhl für Molekulare Neurowissenschaften am Imperial College in London inne. Seine Forschungsarbeiten wurden mit zahlreichen internationalen Preisen ausgezeichnet. Neben zahlreichen Fachaufsätzen veröffentlichte er zus. mit Leon Kreitzman: Rhythms of Life. The Biological Clocks that Control the Daily Lives of Every Living Thing (2005) sowie Seasons of Life. The Biological Rhythms that Enable Living Things to Thrive and Survive (2009).

Achim Kramer ist Professor für Chronobiologie an der Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

The event will be held in English