The research in BioClock is organized in three clusters, each focusing on a different aspect of the biological clock and its place in the world around us. In Cluster 1, we address the societal relevance of the biological clock, focusing on promoting physical health and mental wellbeing as well as preventing disease in our 24-h society. In Cluster 2, we use our knowledge of the biological clock for the benefit of patients throughout the healthcare system. Taking a truly inclusive approach, in Cluster 3 we focus on the world around us by addressing the effects of light pollution on the biological clocks in plants and animals in both rural and urban areas in order to establish and implement strategies that protect biodiversity.
Cluster 1 – Clocks in Society
In Cluster 1, we will develop and test practical interventions designed to help us maintain a healthy biological clock throughout life. The breakthroughs in this cluster include developing innovative lighting strategies, activity- and diet-related lifestyle interventions, personalized work schedules, and education programmes designed to maintain healthy clock function. These breakthroughs will help preserve healthy behavioural rhythms, thereby contributing to improved physical and mental health throughout the population. In addition, we will establish and validate molecular markers that can predict and quantify disruptions in the biological clock and associated health problems, opening new research and therapeutic avenues. More information on individual projects can be found below.
Cluster leader: Laura Kervezee (LUMC)
Vice-cluster leader: Roelof Hut (RUG)
Senior advisor: Andries Kalsbeek (NIN)
The aim of this work package is to describe the mechanisms of light effects on behavior and cognitive performance in diurnal and nocturnal mammals and humans. The specific objectives are to:
The aim of this work package is to find effective timed exercise training and time-restricted eating schedules in order to prevent lifestyle-induced disturbances of metabolism and sleep-wake rhythms. Specific objectives are to:
The overall aim of this work package is to design biomarker-based personalized prevention strategies to promote sustainable health and performance of shift workers. Specific objectives are to:
This work package aims to develop educational programs and interventions that target (knowledge of) the biological clock of adolescents and university students. Specifically, our objectives are to:
Cluster 2 – Clocks in Healthcare
In Cluster 2, we will improve clinical outcomes in patients throughout the healthcare system by building upon the principles that govern the biological clock. We will investigate the long-term effectiveness of providing rhythmic conditions in neonatal intensive care units, study the role of light and social rhythms to improve mental health, develop new compounds designed to strengthen and restore clock function, and determine the optimal timing of immunotherapy, for example in the context of vaccinations and cancer therapy. More information on individual projects can be found below.
Cluster leader: Niki Antypa (Leiden Univ)
Vice-cluster leader: Ines Chaves (Erasmus MC)
Senior advisor: Bert van der Horst (Erasmus MC)
The overall aim of this work package is to improve development and health by strengthening circadian rhythms early in life. Specifically, our objectives are to:
The overall aim of this work package is to restore and optimize the biological clock of mental healthcare patients with depression. The specific objectives are to:
The ultimate goal of this work package is to determine which time of the day vaccines should be administered to offer the best protection by the vaccine. Specifically our objectives are to:
There are three objectives in this work package. The aim is to:
Cluster 3 – Clocks in the Environment
Innovative techniques and solutions will be used to reduce the disruptive effects of our 24-h society on the biological clocks of plants and animals. We will detail, and scale up from, the physiological and behavioral effects of light pollution in order to understand the effects on the fitness of organisms, and their cascading effects on complete ecological communities. By developing and implementing effective new strategies that protect the 24-h rhythm in urban, rural, and natural ecosystems, we will minimize the detrimental effects of light pollution on the environment. This will contribute to slowing the alarming decline in global biodiversity. More information on individual projects can be found below.
Cluster leader: Kamiel Spoelstra (NIOO-KNAW)
Vice-cluster leader: Martina Vijver (Leiden Univ)
Senior advisor: Joke Meijer (LUMC)
In this work package, we will study the mechanisms by which light pollution affects the behavior and physiology of both diurnal and nocturnal species, identifying strategies to preserve clock function. The specific objectives are to:
The main aim of this work package is to quantify the temporal mismatching effects of light pollution in foodwebs, ranging from plants and herbivores to predators. The specific objectives are to:
The overall aim of this work package is to determine the extent to which the 24-hour nature of cities results in the change of species’ rhythms. The specific objectives are to:
The overall aim of this work package is to expand knowledge on the most dramatic ecological impact mechanism of light pollution, namely phototaxis in insects and migratory birds. Species-group specific spectral responses will be measured in lab and field settings, leading to evidence based spectral light tuning that minimizes ecological impact. The specific objectives are to:
The BioClock Consortium is funded by the NWA-ORC programme of the Dutch Research Council (NWO; project number 1292.19.077).