Faculty Profile: Martha Gillette
Martha Gillette brings her biochemical understanding of how cells signal one another to examining the body's biological clock in rats. The clockwork, it turns out, drives not only circadian rhythms of sleep and wakefulness, but almost every function in any living organism, including such functions as eating, drinking, body temperature fluctuation and hormone secretion.
"What I totally love about clocks is that they're so biological," says Gillette. "They are so universal. Vast mats of blue green algae in the Pacific Ocean have them; even single-celled organisms have them. Cells that have six-hour division cycles can keep track of the 24-hour cycle. Clocks tell plants when to flower, they tell migratory animals when to travel."