BIOESSAYS: Circadian rhythms and mood

December 20, 2013

To understand the link between circadian rhythm regulation and mood disorders requires unification of data and tools across multiple levels of inquiry, from DNA variation, cellular pathways, neural circuits, their dynamics and plasticity, to behavioral outcomes. The circadian-mood connection provides an exceptional opportunity to pursue cross-level integrated analyses.

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Finding the roots of mood disorders: Dr. Jun Li

There is more to mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder and major depression, than meets the clinician’s eye. Fortunately, scientists such as Jun Li, Ph.D. are probing the genetic underpinnings of such diseases in pursuit of knowledge on which to build better therapies. Dr. Li, an Assistant Professor of Human Genetics at University of Michigan and a Rising Star Awardee in 2011, has just discovered 3 new candidate genes for bipolar disorder, and found a gene expression pattern underlying the disrupted sleep cycles of persons with mood disorders.

Watch the interview at IMHRO »

Nature: Neuroscience: Method man

Karl Deisseroth is leaving his mark on brain science one technique at a time

May 29, 2013

When Karl Deisseroth moved into his first lab in 2004, he found himself replacing a high-profile tenant: Nobel-prizewinning physicist Steven Chu. “His name was still on the door when I moved in,” says Deisseroth, a neuroscientist, of the basement space at Stanford University in California. The legacy has had its benefits. When chemistry student Feng Zhang dropped by looking for Chu, Deisseroth convinced him to stick around. “I don’t think he knew who I was. But he got interested enough.”

Deisseroth is now a major name in science himself. He is associated with two blockbuster techniques that allow researchers to show how intricate circuits in the brain create patterns of behaviour. The development of the methods, he says, came from a desire to understand mechanisms that give rise to psychiatric disease — and from the paucity of techniques to do so. “It was extremely clear that for fundamental advances in these domains I would have to spend time developing new tools,” says Deisseroth.

Read the full article at Nature

The Science Network: Interview with Karl Deisseroth

May 25, 2013

Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD is a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at Stanford University. His previous research included studies on the cellular and molecular underpinnings of brain physiology, and in particular, the biochemical networks which function during electrical activity in neurons to mediate memory storage. His current research is targeted toward understanding of higher-level cognitive function, including the mechanism of generation of subjective sensation from neuronal activity. His lab’s research goals include adapting molecular and cellular techniques to study the assembly and behavior of intact neuronal systems, using neural stem cells and novel tissue engineering techniques.

Watch the interview on The Science Network »

Scientific American: Brain’s circadian clock disrupted in depressed people

Major or clinical depression seems to alter the genes that regulate sleep and waking

May 14, 2013

Disrupted sleep is so commonly a symptom of depression that some of the first things doctors look for in diagnosing depression are insomnia and excessive sleeping. Now, however, scientists have observed for the first time a dysfunctional body clock in the brains of people with depression.

People with major depression, also known as clinical depression, show disrupted circadian rhythms across brain regions, according to a new study published today (May 13) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers looked at post-mortem brain samples from mentally healthy donors and compared them with those of people who had major depression at the time of their death.

They found that gene activity in the brains of depressed people failed to follow healthy 24-hour cycles.

Read the full article at Scientific American »