Conference focuses on biological rhythms in living organisms

The biological rhythms of living organisms will be the subject of an innovative conference at York University. Taking place from May 19 to 21 and hosted by the Department of Biology in the Faculty of Science, the Canadian Society for Chronobiology Conference will bring together leading experts in chronobiology, including clinicians, geneticists, epidemiologists, molecular biologists and psychologists. All will present their latest research on the effects of internal timekeeping on humans, animals and even fungi.

Chronobiology is the study of biological rhythms in living organisms. These biological rhythms are found in most species and are believed to be evolutionary adaptations to cyclical variations of the environment. Research on chronobiology has shown that biological clocks play a key role in our lives, and when they are out of whack they can lead to cardiovascular disease, cancer, metabolic disorders and mental health.

Patricia Lakin-Thomas

Biology Professor Patricia Lakin-Thomas, who is a member of the Canadian Society for Chronobiology, was the local organizer for this year’s conference.

“This conference will bring together researchers from across Canada, both established investigators and young scientists-in-training,” says Lakin-Thomas. “We all share a fascination with the internal clocks that time our physiology and behavior, but we work on a diversity of systems, from fungus to humans, and from cells in a dish to whole animals. We will be sharing our latest research findings, establishing collaborations, and accelerating the translation of basic discoveries into clinical practice.”

The conference will feature symposium talks by renowned Canadian scientists and oral and poster presentations by trainees. In addition to a mini-school for students Friday afternoon, there will be a public lecture on biological clocks and their role in human health and disease, “The Time of Your Life: Biological Clocks in Health and Disease,” by eminent chronobiologist Ben Rusak of Dalhousie University at 5pm on Friday, May 19. Rusak’s talk will answer questions, such as: What impact does it have on our health when these clocks are disrupted? How do our internal clocks affect our cardiovascular health? Why do teenagers have trouble waking up early in the morning? What happens to our bodies during jet lag and shift work? How does the hormone melatonin regulate our clocks?

Phyllis Zee of Northwestern University will deliver the Mrosovsky Keynote Lecture titled “Circadian Medicine: Insights from the Clinic” at 2pm on Saturday, May 20,

For more details, visit the conference website at