Most physiological and behavioral processes exhibit daily oscillations under the control of an endogenous circadian timing system, and disruptions of this system, such as those that occur with shift work or as a result of the aberrant sleeping and eating schedules common in modern society, cause metabolic and cognitive deficits in diverse organisms, including humans. Research in the Cavanaugh Lab at Loyola University Chicago focuses on understanding the neuronal circuitry and molecular mechanisms through which the circadian system communicates with the brain and peripheral tissues to modulate behavioral and physiological processes, such as rest and activity, feeding, and stress. Our research aims to accomplish two major goals that span molecular, cellular and systems-level neuroscience. The first is to address fundamental questions in the fields of sleep and circadian biology, which has considerable relevance for understanding human function and quality of life. The second, more basic goal is to provide a general framework with which to understand how neuronal circuits function to govern complex behaviors, a question that is at the forefront of current neuroscience research.
Department of Biology - Loyola University Chicago