Fred Turek Charles & Emma Morrison Professor

Research Summary

Sleep and circadian rhythms, and seasonal reproductive cycles

Research in the Turek laboratory is focused on the study of sleep and circadian rhythms, with special interest in identifying genes that regulate sleep and circadian rhythms. Ongoing work on sleep and circadian rhythms includes an investigation of: (1) the neurochemical, molecular, and cellular events involved in the entrainment, generation and expression of circadian rhythms arising from a central biological clock located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus, (2) the genetics of the circadian clock system and the molecular genetic mechanisms underlying the sleep-wake cycle, (3) the feedback effects of the sleep-wake cycle on the circadian clock regulating the timing of that cycle, (4) the effects of advanced age on the expression of behavioral and endocrine rhythms, and on the expression of circadian clock genes, 5) the links between sleep, circadian rhythms and energy metabolism, (6) the role of melatonin in modulating sleep and circadian rhythms, and (7) the role of disrupted circadian rhythms on peripheral and central disease/disorders.

In addition to our work on rodents, we have established extensive collaborations with clinical researchers. Studies in humans are aimed at shifting the human clock in an attempt to alleviate mental and physical problems that are associated with disorders in circadian time-keeping, particularly in the elderly and in shift-workers. In addition, we are using both pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches to determine if we can reverse the effects of aging on the circadian clock system in both rodents and humans. Our sleep, circadian and metabolic studies are focused on how disruption in these interactions can lead to obesity, diabetes CVD, and gastrointestinal disorders.

Selected Publications

Selected Honors/Awards

  • 2011  Distinguished Scientist Award, Sleep Research Society
  • 2010  Inaugural Margaret Prine Joy Lectureship in Reproductive Sciences, Magee-Womens Research Day in Reproductive Biology and Women’s Health, Magee-Womens Research Institute
  • 2008  Pioneer Award, Institute for Women’s Health Research, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
  • 2008  Distinguished Service Award, Society for Research on Biological Rhythms
  • 1998-2000  National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), Distinguished Senior Investigator Award
  • 1995-present  Endowed Chair Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Biology
  • 1994-96  Mentor for Dr. Phyllis C. Zee as a Brookdale National Foundation Fellow
  • 1991-92  Belgium American Educational Foundation Senior Fellowship (BAEF)
  • 1991-92  Awarded a Senior International Fellowship, NIH Fogarty International Center  (1 year sabbatical), Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • 1991-92  John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship
  • 1987  Curt P. Richter Prize, International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology
  • 1986  Awarded a Senior International Fellowship, NIH Fogarty International Center (1 year sabbatical), Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • 1981  Elected a Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 1980, 84  Named to Associated Student Government Faculty Honor Roll inrecognition of outstanding teaching
  • 1978-83  NIH-Research Career Development Award
  • 1975  National Research Service Award
  • Four-year Teaching Assistantship — Predoctoral Fellowship, Stanford University
  • Evans Collegiate Scholarship to Michigan State University

Centers/Institutes