Circadian Rhythms and Clocks

Prof. Rodolfo Costa

University of Padova


Life on Earth has evolved within the context of cyclic environmental changes. Organisms have adapted to such changes by means of endogenous clocks, which encompass clock genes and clock proteins. The endogenous clock which has been best-characterised from a molecular stand-point is the circadian clock, which regulates the activity of a significant proportion of the genome and thus presides over crucial biological functions. In humans, a life style which is not in line with the rhythm dictated by the circadian clock has been associated with an increased risk of several diseases, including metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular accidents and depression. By contrast, a life style which respects the rhythm dictated by the circadian clock is a recipe for a healthier and possibly longer life.

Rodolfo Costa holds the Chair of Genetics at the University of Padova, in Italy. For several years, his research focus has been the study of the biological clock in different organisms, in terms of its genetic/molecular features and its physiological and behavioural correlates. He is also active in the field of functional genomics, utilizing the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) as a model for the study of homologues of human genes implicated in mitochondrial diseases. His research has been funded by the European Union (CEC Science Plan; EC-Biotechnology Programme; EU 6th Framework Programme – EUCLOCK; Marie Curie FP7 ITN – INsecTIME), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – POLARTIME, the Italian Ministry of Education, the Italian Ministry of Agricultural Policies, the Italian Space Agency, the National Research Council of Italy (CNR – EPIGEN), the University of Padova, and the CaRiPaRo and Telethon foundations. He has been actively involved in major popular sciences initiatives including the Genova Science Festival and the Padova Galileo book award. He is the past-President of the Italian Association for Genetics (AGI), and a member of the European Biological Rhythm Society (EBRS) and the American Society for Research on Biological Rhythms (SRBR).

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