In our lab, we study the mammalian circadian system. This experimental model is ideal for understanding the regulations of behavior at many different levels of analysis. The circadian clock controls easily measurable behavioral and physiological processes. We know that the circadian clock is located in the brain in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). We know that some individual cells within the SCN contain a molecular clock that results from a transcription / translation feedback loop. By studying this elegant system, we can begin to understand how complex behaviors are regulated at the level of the brain, the cell, the genome and the molecule.
Currently, the main focus of research in the lab is geared towards understanding how the various cell-type in the circadian clock are organized. Each cell population appears to serve a specific function. We would like to undertand how these groups are wired together. Furthermore, we would like to understand the behavioral and molecular effects of the specific neurotransmitters found in these seperate cell populations.