The Chronobiology and Neuroimmunology Laboratory
Research in our laboratory is concerned with the mechanisms that underlie the temporal structure of physiology and behavior. Nearly all behaviors are organized in time. Over the course of the day, the year, or the lifespan, thresholds for the activation of ingestive behavior, sex behavior, and social interactions (to name but a few), vary markedly. For the vast majority of organisms in nature (and over the vast majority of human evolution), when an individual initiates a behavior or engages a physiological process can be as important as whether it does so at all. The work in our lab focuses on understanding the physiological mechanisms by which daily and seasonal time information are imparted into systems critical for survival and adaptation. Consequently, much of our research is aimed at understanding how daily and seasonal time affect the immune system and the reproductive system.
A separate line of research in our lab focuses on neural-immune interactions beyond chronobiology. This work examines how protracted immune responses that accompany chronic diseases (e.g., cancer) affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and brain function central to cognitive and emotional processes.
Our research is motivated by an awareness of potential implications of research on biological timekeeping, and we try to link basic research to problems of human disease when such links can be sensibly made. However, I view basic research on issues in biological psychology and regulatory biology as valuable knowledge in its own right. We engage research at multiple levels of analysis, ranging from evolutionary mechanisms to formal modeling to endocrinology and molecular biology.
Updated: 9 February 2017