by Rebecca Arrington
12, 2003 -- Gov.
Mark R. Warner and Science Museum of Virginia Director Dr. Walter
R.T. Witschey announced Tuesday that Michael Menaker, Commonwealth
Professor of Biology,
is one of six Outstanding Scientists and two Outstanding Industrialists
of 2003. The awardees include six university scientists and two
corporate chief executive officers. They will be introduced to the
General Assembly on Feb. 18 and receive their awards at a banquet
at the Science Museum in Richmond on April 1.
recipients are at the cutting edge of their fields," said Gov.
Warner. "Their creativity, contributions, and dedication are
aimed at making life - in Virginia and beyond - better for us all."
research focuses on circadian clocks - the internal timers that
regulate rhythmic behaviors and functions of organs. Menakers
laboratory has provided the best evidence that a specific part of
the brain is the "master clock" regulating the activity-rest
cycle in mammals, and that this clock is synchronized to day and
night by special photoreceptors (light sensing cells) in the eyes
that are not used for image formation. These cells have recently
been identified by other laboratories as a completely novel set
of photoreceptors in the retina that are likely to be important
to normal synchrony of humans.
lab has discovered circadian clocks in most peripheral organs, such
as the lung and liver, and are investigating the way these clocks
interact with the master clock in the brain and with the environment
to control organ function.
in biological timing has implications for many areas of human life,
from jet lag to shift work. A better understanding of the internal
clock could reduce accidents due to fatigue.
also are investigating ways to deliver drug treatments for cancer
and other diseases timed to the peak rhythms of body clocks. This
new area, chronopharmacology, holds promise for more effective treatment
of emotional disorders, hypertension, cancer and insomnia.
more on Menakers research, check the following Web links:
stops on NSF biological timing center, but the momentum carries
Years weaken signal of bodys master clock
lag problems may be related to meals
shows internal body clocks become desynchronized under jet-lag