Casey Diekman has received the Fulbright US Scholar Award to continue his research into circadian rhythms

LSI hosts its first Fulbright US Scholar

The Living Systems Institute will host its first recipient of the Fulbright scholarship to study mathematical biology.

Casey Diekman, of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, has received the Fulbright US Scholar Award to continue his research into circadian rhythms.

During his time at the LSI, Casey will collaborate with biologists, mathematicians, and computer scientists to develop models of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the master circadian clock in the brain that coordinates daily rhythms in physiology and behaviour.

He is one of more than 800 US citizens who will teach, conduct research, and/or provide expertise abroad for the 2019-2020 academic year, through the Fulbright Scholar Program. 

Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields.

Speaking about his award, Casey said: “I am honoured to participate in a program with such a rich history of promoting intercultural understanding and global academic exchange. This award will give me the opportunity to work with some of the UK’s leading experts in computational neuroscience and form new long-term international collaborations.”

Diekman will collaborate with the laboratory of Dr Mino Belle, an electrophysiologist at the University of Exeter Medical School, to study how the electrical activity and membrane excitability of SCN neurons is linked to circadian rhythms in gene expression produced by intracellular molecular clocks.

This phenomenon is difficult to study through wet-lab experiments alone due to the drastically different spatial and temporal scales involved, from transcriptional regulation inside the cell nucleus on a time scale of hours to networks of neurons with membrane dynamics on a millisecond time scale.

Multiscale modelling and computer simulation can connect data obtained from experiments at each scale to gain insight into how the circadian timekeeping system operates as a whole. Ultimately these models will be used to help understand how the clock synchronizes to the daily light-dark cycle under normal conditions, and what goes wrong when the clock is disrupted due to night shift work, old age, or neurodegenerative disease.

Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has given more than 390,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 59 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 84 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.

For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State, please visit http://eca.state.gov/fulbright

Date: 30 October 2019

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