SATCHIDANANDA PANDA – Professor, Regulatory Biology Laboratory: So pathogens like this used to cause infectious diseases that killed humans for centuries. Until sanitation, vaccination and antibiotics took care of pathogens and gave us long, healthy lives.
But now, we spend nearly half of our life fighting with these kinds of chronic diseases, and for which there is no cure in sight. So today, I’ll share with you some really revolutionary ideas of how to prevent, manage and cure these diseases. And the idea is based on the concepts of circadian rhythm, our near-24-hour rhythms. To adapt to the 24-hour light-dark cycle, or day-night cycle, on our planet, almost every plant and animal has circadian rhythms that are controlled by what we call circadian clocks. These are actually encoded in our DNA.
And this is so fundamental to life forms on our planet that if we move any animal or human from this planet to another planet that has identical conditions as the planet Earth but has a day-night cycle other than 24 hours, then we cannot easily survive. In recognition of this fundamental property of circadian clocks and health, this year’s Nobel Prize was actually awarded to three scientific leaders in this field. And I’m really honored that all three of them have directly inspired and influenced my research.
So how do we know that these clocks are in-built? For example, if you lock me inside an apartment with no clue about outside time, then my circadian clock will make me go to sleep around 10:00 at night. I’ll go into deep sleep around 2:00, and anticipating waking up, my body will warm up around 4:00 in the morning.