Circadian rhythms, mouse genetics
Dr. Storch joined the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in June 2008 after completing his postdoctoral studies at Harvard Medical School, where he explored the biological role of circadian clocks, internal timers that generate rhythms with a period of 24 hours. His research contributed to the current understanding that the circadian timing system in mammals is made up of a multitude of intrinsic clocks that are distributed throughout the body, including the brain. Dr. Storch showed that these clocks typically control more than 10% of the genes expressed in a given tissue, suggesting that many biological processes must be clock-regulated. Dr. Storch’s research program aims to elucidate the functional significance of this multi-oscillator timing system by employing genetic mouse models. He will examine mice that lack circadian clock function in selected tissues or organs for deficits in physiology and behaviour. It is believed that circadian clocks in the central nervous system play important roles in the control of various brain functions, including the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle, locomotion, body weight, reproduction, and reward processing. Dr. Storch plans to rigorously examine these links by genetically manipulating clock function in selected brain structures. Dr. Storch’s research may yield fundamental insights into how our internal 24-hour timers affect the nervous system and may thus pave the way for new concepts to tackle mental disorders and other brain dysfunctions.