Description and Aim
It is increasingly clear that a robust sleep/wake cycle is a critical component of good health. Work from our field has documented that disrupting the circadian system leads to a set of symptoms that impact cognition, cardiovascular function, metabolism, and the immune system. In addition, patients with a wide range of nervous system disorders exhibit disrupted sleep/wake cycles with deficits in the timing of arousal states that could be the result of an underlying circadian dysfunction. These observations raise the possibility that circadian dysfunction may play an important role in disease pathology and that stabilizing the circadian system in the patients may actually improve this pathology. The goal of this meeting is to discuss these topics as we consider the role of the field of circadian rhythms in biomedical research.
The workshop is designed to promote discussions, rather than to listen to overview talks. All participants are asked to present short lectures (25 min, including discussion) on a particular topic. They will be asked to present data focusing on the interaction between circadian rhythms and disease. We ask each of you to focus on three questions: (1) Does the disease result in deterioration of circadian rhythms? (2) Does the deterioration of circadian rhythms result in aggravation of the disease? (3) Is there evidence that improvement of rhythms can improve of the patient’s quality of life and perhaps even influence the pathology of the disease?
These questions should also be the very center of the plenary discussions that follow each lecture. In addition, we hope that the plenary discussions can cover how to improve interaction between the clinicians and the basic scientists in this area. We would like to consider how basic information about circadian rhythms can be integrated into medical school curriculum. Finally, we will aim to prepare a document that will be submitted for publication shortly after the end of the workshop. Therefore, we will reserve time for different groups to write paragraphs that are the outcome of the different discussions. We hope that the paper should be a short document, covering all areas and their relations with circadian rhythms, should emphasize on the bidirectional relation between circadian rhythms and disease, and should suggest strategies to promote the incorporation of circadian knowledge into the clinic.