The research activities 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 will 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 will 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 will 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.
Cluster leader: Laura Kervezee (LUMC)
Vice-cluster leader: Roelof Hut (RUG)
Senior advisor: Andries Kalsbeek (NIN)
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.
Cluster leader: Niki Antypa (Leiden Univ)
Vice-cluster leader: Ines Chaves (Erasmus MC)
Senior advisor: Bert van der Horst (Erasmus MC)
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.
Cluster leader: Kamiel Spoelstra (NIOO-KNAW)
Vice-cluster leader: Martina Vijver (Leiden Univ)
Senior advisor: Joke H. Meijer (LUMC)
The BioClock Consortium is funded by the NWA-ORC programme of the Dutch Research Council (NWO; project number 1292.19.077).