HCR.20.079 – BioClock consortium: The circadian clock in modern society

Route: Health care research, sickness prevention and treatment

Cluster question: 073 What effect is the rising 24-hour economy having on human health and performance and how can our knowledge of biorhythms enhance the relationship between the individual and society?

Biological clocks are ubiquitous in nature. The microbes, plants, and animals around us are governed by endogenous clocks that drive 24-h rhythms in biological processes. Similarly, in our bodies, the circadian clock controls nearly all aspects of our physiology, biochemistry, and behavior. Due to the presence of artificial light at night as well as societal and economic demands that are increasingly scheduled around the clock, our modern lifestyle is often in conflict with the timing of the internal biological clocks. Ignoring these disruptive effects on our biological clocks negatively influences health and well-being, disturbs sleep and alertness, diminishes biodiversity and sustainability, and hampers economic growth. To tackle these concerns and offer solutions, an interdisciplinary approach is required that transcends the limits of traditional scientific disciplines. In this consortium it is our mission to deepen our knowledge of biological clocks and use this knowledge to promote healthier lives and a more resilient society. We will focus on three key research objectives: (1) promoting the health of the biological clock across society, including the elderly, students, and shift workers, by developing and implementing lifestyle changes and lighting strategies for use at work, in school, and at home; (2) improving patient care through the application of chronobiology to clinical practice for patients in hospitals and for people suffering from depression, developing medications that strengthen the biological clock, and optimising the timing of vaccination and cancer treatments; and (3) developing sustainable strategies designed to protect biodiversity by minimising the negative effects of light pollution on biological clocks in nature (e.g. birds, fish, mammals, plants). In this unique consortium consisting of scientists, clinicians, local governments, and other societal partners, our research will benefit both human health and the world around us.

Keywords

biodiversity, Biological clock, circadian rhythms, environmental impact, health care, society

Submitter

Organisation LUMC
Name Prof. dr. J.H. (Joke) Meijer
E-mail j.h.meijer@lumc.nl