Dr. Ilia Karatsoreos, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Graduate Studies
My interest in biological timing goes back to my undergraduate days at the University of Toronto, where I volunteered in the circadian rhythms lab of Dr. Martin Ralph, working on projects that explored how learning and circadian rhythms interact. I really wanted to understand more about circuitry of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) brain clock, so I packed up for New York City and the lab of Dr. Rae Silver at Columbia University for my Ph.D. Working with a group of brilliant lab mates, I helped to map out parts of the SCN circuitry, and also uncovered an important role for the androgen receptor (which binds testosterone, and other hormones) in the SCN. This stoked my interests in understanding how hormones from the periphery affect the brain, and so after my Ph.D., I picked up shop and took the long trip across Manhattan to the Upper East Side, and the lab of Dr. Bruce McEwen at The Rockefeller University. In that rich intellectual environment, I conducted work that helped form the foundations of my own lab, investigating how the circadian timing system and the "stress system" worked to help keep the balance in the brain and body. We showed that disrupting the circadian clock or the stress system could lead to many changes in both the brain and periphery, including altered neural structure, impaired cognition, immune disruption, and metabolic dysregulation. My current research group continues this line of inquiry, and we are making progress towards understanding how the circadian clock and stress systems impact an individual's resilience and vulnerability to challenges in the environment. Our goal is to devise methods to counteract the mental and physical health effects of our modern, high-stress, always-on society.
How do biological clocks promote optimal function and how does their disruption lead to negative health outcomes?
University of Toronto
Hon.B.Sc. Psychology; Brain and Behaviour
How does the timing of sleep affect brain function and metabolism? How do circadian clocks regulate sleep physiology?
What are the processes by which stress promotes adaptive changes in brain, behavior, and physiology? What are the mechanisms by which disrupted stress systems affect mental and physical health?
Ph.D. Psychology; Neuroscience
Mentor: Dr. Rae Silver
The Rockefeller University
Postdoctoral Fellowship; Neuroendocrinology
Mentor: Dr. Bruce McEwen