Lawrence Morin Organizes International Conference at Lorentz Center

Fifty of the world’s leading experts in the field of circadian rhythms gathered at the Lorentz Center at Leiden University to attend an international conference organized by Lawrence Morin, PhD, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stony Brook University, and three colleagues.

The conference, which took place from August 16 through 20, was titled Assembling a Multi-Cellular Circadian Pacemaker: Seeking Principles of Neural Circuit Organization Across Invertebrate and Vertebrate Brains. The principal aim of the conference was to bring together researchers studying the neural circuits that control the circadian rhythms of insects with those who study the them in mammals. The conference was supported by grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and from the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research, among others.

At the conference Dr. Morin, who studies the neuroanatomy of mammalian brains, teamed up with colleagues who study insect brains to present a plenary session on Neuroanatomical Substrates.

Circadian rhythms are generated by internal biological clocks that enable living things to adapt to the day/night cycle. Almost every measurable aspect of bodily functioning is affected by them. The clocks that control these rhythms in animals are located throughout the body but are synchronized by central circuits in the brain. The mechanisms by which these processes take place are not yet understood. Two very different lines of research are being conducted to explain them - one involving the study of insects and the other the study of mammals. Dr. Morin and his colleagues convened the conference to explore how these two lines of research might inform one another.

According to Dr. Morin the main benefit achieved by the conference was the crystallization of the questions that need to be studied in order to move the research forward. “Each of us went home with a clearer idea of what we need to do next,” he said.