Time is as much a niche in biology as physical space and behavior, and all bacteria, fungi, plants and animals retain a sense of time and organize their physiological processes accordingly. The molecular machinery for a hard-wired and well-preserved temporal organization of physiological processes, especially circadian and rest-activity cycles, optimally suits every organism and the chemical machinery that drives them to the conditions of life. These rhythms of life are deeply rooted in ancient biology and have been conserved over time. Humans are the only organisms that now purposefully disrupt and coerce the natural rest-activity cycles and daily rhythms of our component cellular machinery to suit the demands of modern society. As examples, sleep and biological rhythm disturbances affect one in four Canadians, and have deleterious effects on cellular, organ, organismal and societal functions and health. Humans also now consume drugs in huge quantities to counter the problems associated with poor sleep, altered waking functions and disrupted rhythms, with enormous costs to the health care system. The goal of this course is for trainees to gain a broad perspective on the important role of time-dependent physiological processes to cellular and organismal functions, and how disruption of these cycles can have deleterious effects on cellular, organ and organismal health. Understanding the cellular and neuronal machinery underlying such time-dependent processes has led to major breakthroughs in topics of broad interest, including mechanisms of sleep and anesthesia, sedation, learning, memory, plasticity and clinical medicine and health care initiatives.
Two trainee presentations (30 min each) per 2-hour class based on papers in the selected areas, to be followed by general discussion. Original papers, reviews and/or pertinent book chapters will be used as the basis for trainee presentations and discussion, and will be selected by the faculty facilitators with input from the trainees. Active participation in discussions will be a requirement. For each presentation, two trainee discussants in addition to the presenter will be assigned to review the paper and asked to come to class with prepared questions. Papers and presentations will span basic science to integrative physiology and medicine. Trainees do not need to have a strong background in all the topics covered as one of the major goals of the course is to broaden the interdisciplinary background of the participants.
Week 1: (i) Introduction; (ii) Overview of research facilities, techniques and opportunities for collaboration and enhancement of research as part of the CIHR-funded Team Research and Training Program in Sleep and Biological Rhythms (http://www.utoronto.ca/sleepandrhythms); (iii) Tour of Center for Biological Timing and Cognition (CBTC, http://cbtc.utoronto.ca/)
Week 2: Daily biological rhythms
Week 3: The nature of sleep
Week 4: Anesthesia and sedation
Week 5: Learning and memory
Week 6: Brain plasticity and behavioral flexibility
Week 7: Sensory-motor function
Week 8: Neurogenetic influences on behavior
Week 9: Energy balance and obesity
Week 10: Endocrinology and metabolism
Week 11: Development and aging
Week 12: Topics in clinical medicine and health care
Oral presentation - 25%
Original papers, reviews and/or chapters will be assigned to the students. Each student will present the paper to the class and offer a critique. Students will present 2-3 times in this class (depending on enrolment), and presentations will be assessed by all faculty members in the classroom.
Written reports: Midterm – 25%
The midterm written report will be a 3-page mini-review and critique on an assigned paper relevant to the students own research.
Written reports: Final – 35%
The final written report will be a 3-page mini-review and critique on an assigned paper relevant to the students research. Students will be expected to incorporate knowledge gained during the course of this class.
Participation in discussions - 15%
In order for this class to be a success, student participation is a must. To encourage this, students will be assessed on the basis of his/her roles as discussants and general contribution to the in-class discussions.
Last updated: June 2011