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Neurobiology Of Sleep And Circadian Rhythms


In the early 1980s Jeff Hall and Michael Rosbash at Brandeis University and Mike Young at Rockefeller University set out to isolate the period (per) gene, which was recovered in a revolutionary genetic screen by Ron Konopka and Seymour Benzer for mutants that altered circadian behavioral rhythms. Over the next 15 years the Hall, Rosbash and Young labs made a series of groundbreaking discoveries that defined the molecular timekeeping mechanism and formed the basis for them being awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Here the authors recount their experiences as post-docs in the Hall, Rosbash and Young labs from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, and provide a perspective of how basic research conducted on a simple model system during that era profoundly influenced the direction of the clocks field and established novel approaches that are now standard operating procedure for studying complex behavior.


Nobel Prize, Circadian rhythms, Clock genes, Feedback loop, Genetic screens, Behavioral neuroscience


This work is freely available under a Creative Commons license.