Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Could circadian rhythms negatively impact research?

Our lives are regulated by a complex biological clock that controls our circadian rhythms. The master clock is located in our hypothalamus and functions to ensure that specific proteins are turned on or off at the right times. These functions are important not only for cell function, but also for proliferation and survival of species. Of concern to our health is the notion that changes in our exposure to environmental […]

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The ultimate fathers

On this Father’s Day, I would like to pay tribute to a few of nature’s most ‘devoted’ fathers. Take the emperor penguin for example. If you have ever watched the movie March of the Penguins, or even Happy Feet, then you know these avian fathers are rock stars of parenting. Males are responsible for keeping the eggs warm for two months while the females go away to feed. They do […]

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Leptin influences mammalian bone development

Leptin is a hormone that was discovered in 1994 and was once heavily studied by researchers who had hoped it might be useful in promoting weight loss.  It is produced by fat cells and signals to the brain whether those fat cells have sufficient energy, at which time it suppresses hunger and thereby promotes weight loss (WebMD; Klok et al., 2007). One of the reasons it failed as a weight […]

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Comparative Physiologist: Berry Pinshow, PhD

I came across a really interesting interview of Dr. Barry Pinshow, a comparative physiologist and member of the American Physiological Society. In this Living History of Physiology video, Dr. Pinshow talks about growing up in South Africa and his decision to move to Israel as a teen. He also discusses how he became interested in science, his research in desert biology and the influential people in his career. Very inspiring!

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Caffeine redemption

Sometimes caffeine gets bad rap. But, not all caffeine drinks are created equal and certainly there are health issues related to over-consumption. But, as an avid coffee drinker, I’d like to think there are some benefits to my favorite morning treat. A recent article published in American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism highlighted some of the health benefits of caffeine. Thank you AJP! Obesity is a complicated condition that can […]

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Sleep vs torpor

  I read an interesting review article published in Physiology comparing the low metabolic states of non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM) and torpor. According to the article, all mammals experience NREM sleep patterns during which energy expenditure is decreased and body as well as brain temperatures decline. Animals that experience torpor (hummingbirds, arctic ground squirrels, some mice, bears, etc) have reduced metabolic rates and body temperatures that dip below baseline. NREM […]

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