Biological clocks have evolved to interact with daily changes in our environment and time appropriate physiology, metabolism, and behavior to right time of the day or to the right season. Optimum timing events underlie increased biomass production by plant species, optimum growth, cell division, reproductive success, healthy lifespan and improved prognosis in animals and in humans. In contrast, disruption of the biological timing system as in genetic mutations affecting the internal clock or changes in environmental factors impairs fitness and predisposes to chronic diseases and early aging. Biological timing is a rapidly emerging field and it has profound implications in multiple fronts common to the national interests of both the USA and India. These areas include food security, energy security, public health, and ecosystem restoration. While biological timing researchers in the USA have been at the forefront of understanding the molecular basis of biological clocks in model organisms, Indian researchers have pioneered the understanding of physiology and behavior in complex organisms that are under daily and seasonal regulation.
The Indo-US center for biological timing will be the hub for research, training and education by involving two important Universities of India (University of Delhi and the University of Lucknow) and two important centers of research and education of the USA (University of California and Salk Institute for Biological Studies). The basic science collaborations will center on ongoing funded research with direct relevance to public health and ecosystem restoration. Research collaborations will form the platform for cross-training of researchers and students during short-term visits. These visits and online tools will be leveraged to generate and disseminate education materials on biological timing. Success of the research program will solidify collaboration between two countries while training and education efforts will expand bilateral collaboration. Activities planned under this center are organized into three aims.
- Light modulation of activity, sleep, reproduction, regeneration, and migration.
- Circadian rhythm, eating pattern, and regulation of metabolic homeostasis.
- Scientific meetings, symposiums, and training schools.
The strength of the collaboration between partners of the joint center lies in the non-overlapping species and techniques followed in each center institute.
The third aim of this center is an important one to be achieved through this center. A website hosted will serve as the hub for center activities. It will highlight the executive summary of the center, research activities of participating principal investigators, list of meetings and symposiums in the subject area, link to other chronobiology centers, laboratories and relevant databases. For public outreach, the web site will also include education materials for educating the general public on chronobiology. Center members will use skype and other online communication tools for periodic web-based discussion and consultation. Center members’ travel to US or India will be coordinated to maximize utility. The collaboration between the partnering institutions through this center will expand in future and the outcome in terms of research and knowledge from the project is envisaged to contribute to the information on public health and conservation of biodiversity in both countries.