PiN Faculty Member - Charles Czeisler, MD, PhD

Charles Czeisler, MD, PhD

Frank Baldino, Jr., Ph.D. Professor of Sleep Medicine

Brigham and Women's Hospital
Division of Sleep Medicine , Room 438A
221 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 2115
Tel: 617-732-4013
Fax: 617-732-4015
Visit my lab page here.

Investigative work in our research group focuses on understanding the neurobiology of the human circadian pacemaker, located in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) of the hypothalamus, and applying that knowledge to clinical medicine and occupational health. Our earliest work revealed that sleep duration and structure was regulated by the output of this pacemaker. Since then, we have unmasked the endogenous circadian component of various neuroendocrine, metabolic, thermoregulatory and behavioral rhythms controlled by the pacemaker, by studying human subjects under constant environmental and behavioral conditions. Our current research focuses on four main areas. The first is the neurobiology of circadian photoreception in humans. We have shown that among human subjects who completely lack conscious visual perception, there are a subset who retain normal circadian responsiveness to light. This response is mediated through the eyes and persists even in some subjects who have severe retinal degeneration. We are investigating the influence of light intensity, duration, timing and wavelength on circadian entrainment. The second involves evaluation of how circadian and homeostatic processes interact to regulate sleep and neurobiological function during wakefulness. The third is the examination of the role of melatonin in the organization of sleep and circadian rhythms. Melatonin is typically secreted in a circadian manner by the pineal gland, which is controlled by the SCN via a circuitous neural peripheral pathway. Other ongoing research in my lab includes functional magnetic imaging, quantitative analysis of sleep and waking EEG, and the influence of sleep loss on the deployment of visual attention.

Last Update: 5/7/2014


For a complete listing of publications click here.



© 2016 President and Fellows
of Harvard College