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This course is geared towards starting undergraduate students. A solid background in biology will be helpful but not absolutely essential. The material will be of interest to those who are pursuing a career in any of the life sciences as well as anyone who has run up against their biological clock.
Lecture One: Introduction to
'chronobiology'. What sorts of rhythms are observed in nature? Most of the
lecture will be spent on describing daily or circadian rhythms in organisms
from bacteria to man.
Lecture Two: Circadian rhythms synchronise to
the 24-hour environment. Organisms use specialised photoreceptors to do this
and they display characteristic properties in this process. We experience this
active synchronisation process for example when we suffer from jet lag!
Lecture Three: We will discuss the
elaborate molecular mechanisms that allow circadian clocks to produce their
daily rhythms and to synchronise them to its environment. We will compare these
mechanisms in a wide range of organisms.
Lecture Four: Circadian clocks serve to
orchestrate physiology and metabolism in a coordinated way over the course of
the day. Therefore, practically all processes in an organism are
regulated outputs of the clock. We'll discuss examples of these processes
and ideas about how this circadian regulation works.
Lecture Five: With the appreciation of the
clock’s global control, we proceed to discussing how much this temporal
programme controls our lives from birth to death and how much we mistreat the
circadian clock in modern life.
Six: Finally, we will look at the clock’s relationship to pathology. What are the consequences of living against
the clock, what happens if the clock ‘breaks’, and how can we use our knowledge
about the circadian system in medical diagnosis and therapy.
Martha Merrow and Till Roenneberg