University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Fascinating Rhythms: A Conference on the History and Philosophy of Biological Rhythms Research

From early studies on the timing of plant germination and bird migration to the more recent search for the molecular mechanisms underlying circadian rhythms, the concepts of biological clocks and periodicities have been important to many areas of biology, including ecology, evolutionary biology, zoology, plant physiology, animal behavior, molecular biology, and biomedicine. Indeed, studies of biological rhythms continue to increase in currency due to their integral role in human health, the processes of aging, and the ability of plants, animals, and humans to adapt to challenges of a changing natural and built environment. Although there are certainly aspects of such studies that go back to the ancients and important work dates from the nineteenth century, we have a special interest in looking at biological rhythm research as a case study for how to go about investigating an area of relatively recent science.

As part of “From Biological Rhythm Studies to Chronobiology: A History of a New Scientific Discipline,” a project funded by NSF SES-0958974 and sponsored by the University of Minnesota Program in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, this conference aims to encourage research in the history of biological rhythm studies by bringing together historians, philosophers, and biologists to reflect on this subject in a multidisciplinary historical framework.

Day One:  Foundations and Institutions of Biological Rhythms Research

Welcome and Introduction (8:15-8:30am)
Jole Shackelford, University of Minnesota
Principal Investigator, UMN History of Chronobiology Project

Session 1: Rhythms, Cycles, and the Environment in the Early 20th Century (8:30-10am)
Margaret Hofius, University of Minnesota, “Naturalizing History: Aleksandr Chizhevskii’s Early Work”
Roger Turner, Dickinson College, “Weather Cycles at the Disjunction and Reunion of the Earth and Life Sciences”
Kenton Kroker, York University, “Sleep and the Republics of Rhythm in the early 20th century”

Coffee Break (10-10:15am)

Session 2: Laying Foundations in the 1950s (10:15am-12:15pm)
Frank Barnwell, University of Minnesota, “Frank A. Brown, Jr. and Research on Biological Clocks at the Marine Biological Laboratory”
J. Woodland Hastings, Harvard University, “Steps and Missteps in Early Circadian Biology”
Michael Menaker, University of Virginia, “From the Abstract to the Concrete: Finding the Timepiece”
Franz Halberg, University of Minnesota, “From Chronobiology over Chronomics to Chronousphere”

Lunch (12:15-1:30pm)

Roundtable Discussion (1:30-2:30pm)
“The 1960 Cold Spring Harbor Symposium: Was it a watershed moment in the history of chronobiology?”
Panelists: Frank Barnwell, J. Woodland Hastings, and Michael Menaker

Coffee Break (2:30-2:45pm)

Session 3:  Institutions (2:45-4:45pm)
Michael Smolensky, University of Texas, Austin, “History of the Journals of the International Society for Chronobiology”
Fred Turek, Northwestern University, “The Circadian Clock Revolution: Two Parallel Evolving Pillars of Discovery and the Founding of the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms”
William Hrushesky, Oncology Analytics, “The Development of Human Cancer Chronotherapy at the University of Minnesota”
Germaine Cornelissen-Guillaume, University of Minnesota, “Toward an Affordable Chronobiologically-interpreted Lifetime Monitoring System of Blood Pressure (BP) and Heart Rate (HR)”

Day 2 (May 12): “Searching for the Clock and Putting Biological Rhythms to Work”

Breakfast (8 am)

Session 4: Tools and Technologies (8:30-10:30am)
Sharon Kingsland, The Johns Hopkins University, “Plant Physiology, Laboratory Innovation, and the Study of the Biological Clock”
Thomas Kazlausky, Ambulatory Monitoring, Inc., “History of Actigraphy in Chronobiology”
Erhard Haus, University of Minnesota/HealthPartners Research Foundation, “The Multifrequency Time Organization in Hematology – From Cell Count to Clock Mechanism”
William Bechtel, University of California, San Diego, “The Contribution of Computational Modeling to Chronobiology”

Coffee Break (10:30-10:45am)

Session 5: Thinking about the Biological Clock in the Molecular Age (10:45-11:45am)
Tulley Long, University of Minnesota, “The Tools of Molecular Biology and the Search for the Biological Clock”
Jay Dunlap, Dartmouth Medical School, “Genetic and Molecular Dissection of the Circadian Clock in Small Eukaryotes”

Lunch (11:45am-1pm)

Session 6: The Reproductive Clock (1-2:30pm)
Deanna Day, University of Pennsylvania, “‘Walking Biological Computers’: Natural Family Planning and the Creation of a Cybernetic Subjectivity”
Johnny Winston, Independent Scholar, “Biological Rhythms in Captive Breeding of Endangered Species”
Jenna Healey, Yale University, “Race against the Clock: Discourses of Infertility and the Adoption of the ‘Biological Clock’ Metaphor in America, 1975-1985”

Coffee Break (2:30-2:45pm)

Session 7: Biological Rhythms in the Clinical Setting (2:45-4:15pm)
Yvan Touitou, Fondation A. de Rothschild, Paris, “The Pineal Gland: Myth and Reality”
Ramon Hermida, University of Vigo, Spain, “Human Blood Pressure Circadian Rhythms: Historical Developments”
Alain Reinberg, Fondation A. de Rothschild, Paris, “Discovery of Chronopharmacology and Related Domains”

Closing Remarks: Jole Shackelford

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