ACCEPTING GRADUATE STUDENTS
Circadian rhythms, clock genes.
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, but also cancer, increased susceptibility to infections, metabolic syndrome, and other diseases. Nicolas Cermakian is studying the molecular mechanisms underlying circadian rhythms, how these clocks control physiology, including immune responses, and how clock dysfunction leads to disease.
Research program deals with:
- Circadian rhythms and the immune system. We study the circadian control of immune responses (in collaboration with Dr. Nathalie Labrecque, University of Montreal, Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital). Notably, we reported that T lymphocytes display a circadian rhythm in their response to antigens and we are now addressing the implications of this circadian control for the fight against pathogens and cancer.
- Clock genes, behaviour and mental health. Using a combination of molecular, cellular and behavioural approaches, we study the molecular bases of circadian clocks, and the links between the clocks, environmental light and behaviour. This extends to work on mouse models of mental disorders.
- Expression of clock genes in humans and implications for shift workers and other populations at risk. The study of clock genes in white blood cells of human subjects in time-isolation laboratory (with Dr. Diane Boivin, Douglas Institute) allows us to ask questions on the environmental, physiological and pharmacological control of human clocks, with impact on possible treatment for shift workers.
- Director, Laboratory of Molecular Chronobiology at Douglas Institute