Students learn mysteries of biological clocks at Howard Hughes Medical Institute's holiday lectures on December 4 and 5

Teenagers tend to have a harder time functioning in the morning than their parents do. Long flights can cause jet lag. Both phenomena are related to "biological clocks," molecular mechanisms that regulate how humans and other organisms sleep, wake and function throughout a 24-hour day. And if "the early bird gets the worm," it's because birds also have a built-in clock that helps them to rise before the sun.

High school students in the Washington, D.C., area and throughout the world will learn about biological clocks during the annual Holiday Lectures on Science, December 4 and 5 at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. HHMI investigators Michael Rosbash and Joseph S. Takahashi will explore the inner workings of circadian clocks-the molecular timepieces that keep pace with the 24-hour cycle of day and night, enabling organisms to adapt to daily and even seasonal changes in their environment.

In a program entitled Clockwork Genes: Discoveries in Biological Time, Rosbash and Takahashi will address an international audience of students, teachers and others by satellite and the World Wide Web. The Institute will host a live audience of approximately 200 high school students at its headquarters in Chevy Chase, Md., and HHMI-supported science education programs will host live student audiences in Miami, Fl.; Philadelphia, Pa.; and East Lyme, Ct. A group of Russian students and teachers will watch the lectures and participate live from Moscow in an interactive question and answer session with the lecturers.

Rosbash and Takahashi have done groundbreaking work in identifying the genes that encode the biological clocks of fruit flies and mice. Drawing on their research, they will demonstrate how their findings apply to humans.

Rosbash will explain the common fruit fly's importance to genetic research, including behavioral genetics. A professor of biology at Brandeis University and of molecular biology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Rosbash

Contact: Jennifer Donovan
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

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