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Nicolas Cermakian





Associate Professor

Department of Psychiatry, McGill University

Director, Laboratory of Molecular Chronobiology, Douglas Institute
Researcher, Douglas Institute

Douglas Institute
Perry Pavilion
Room E-2108
6875, boulevard LaSalle
Montreal (Quebec)
H4H 1R3

Phone : 514 761-6131 ext.: 4936
Fax : 514 762-3034
nicolas [dot] cermakian [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Email)

Recruiting graduate students. For more details, please click here


Areas of expertise

Circadian rhythms, clock genes, sleep regulation


Nicolas Cermakian, PhD, completed postdoctoral work at the Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire in Strasbourg, France. He joined the Douglas Institute Research Centre in 2002 in order to conduct research on circadian rhythms and on the “internal clocks” that generate these rhythms. People tend to become aware of their internal clocks in special situations, such as when experiencing jet lag. With chronic disruptions to a person’s internal clock (which can be caused, for example, by shift work) severe sleep or mood disorders may emerge.

Nicolas Cermakian is studying the molecular mechanisms underlying circadian rhythms, especially in animal models. His work focuses on maximizing our understanding of “the gears in the biological clock”. These gears are, in fact, genes, which we call “clock genes”. Mutation of these clock genes in animals or in humans leads to disturbed rhythms, which can cause sleep disturbances and mood disorders, and may even favor cancer progression.

His research program deals with:

  • The regulation of the activity of clock proteins. How do the gears of the biological clock function? How can they be modulated?
  • The circadian control of immune response. Is the response to infections varying over the day? Would a problem with the biological clock affect the defenses of the organism?
  • The study of human clock gene expression, in collaboration with Diane Boivin, MD, PhD, Director of DHRC Centre for Study and Treatment of Circadian Rhythms.
  • The mechanisms of response to orexins, which are neuropeptides involved in sleep regulation (people without hypocretins develop narcolepsy: abnormal sleep rhythms, undesired sleep during the day, etc.). This work will allow a better understanding of clock mechanisms in normal and pathological conditions.

More on his work at http://ncermakianlab.mcgill.ca/