Success Story

August 8, 2019  |  Jola Glotzer

“Medicine in the Fourth Dimension”

In a recent review in Cell Metabolism, CBC Spark Award recipient, Joseph Bass, NU, discusses the impact of circadian biology on drug development

Joseph Bass, MD, PhD, the Charles F. Kettering Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and director of the Center for Diabetes and Metabolism, NU. (Source: Northwestern Medicine News)

Congratulations to Joseph Bass, NU, for his contributions to a review, “Medicine in the Fourth Dimension,” just published in the journal of Cell Metabolism. The review is co-authored by circadian biologists from all over the world, with Barbara Canlon from Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, as senior author. The authors discuss the importance of understanding the impact that the circadian clock has (or should have) on the process of drug development, from the utilization of circadian clock-adjusted experimental design (e.g., time-synchronized cell cultures or choosing diurnal animals as model systems) to including time-of-the-day-variable in studies of when during the 24-hour day certain drugs should be administered to reach their optimal therapeutic potential.

The research results discussed in the current review are partially attributed to the CBC Spark Award (2011) that Bass received together with Nissim Hay, UIC, Graeme Bell and Louis Philipson, UChicago. Bass was also a co-recipient of an earlier CBC Catalyst Award (2007).

Joseph Bass, MD, PhD, is a Charles F. Kettering Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine of Feinberg School of Medicine, the Chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Molecular Medicine, and Director of the Center for Diabetes and Metabolism at NU. The CBC congratulates all authors involved in publishing this excellent, comprehensive and timely review.

Publication attributed to the CBC funding*:

Cederroth CR, Albrecht U, Bass J, Brown SA, Dyhrfjeld-Johnsen J, Gachon F, Green CB, Hastings MH, Helfrich-Förster C, Hogenesch JB, Lévi F, Loudon A, Lundkvist GB, Meijer JH, Rosbash M, Takahashi JS, Young M, Canlon B. Medicine in the Fourth Dimension. Review. Cell Metab. 2019 Aug 6;30(2):238-250. (PubMed)


The importance of circadian biology has rarely been considered in pre-clinical studies, and even more when translating to the bedside. Circadian biology is becoming a critical factor for improving drug efficacy and diminishing drug toxicity. Indeed, there is emerging evidence showing that some drugs are more effective at nighttime than daytime, whereas for others it is the opposite. This suggests that the biology of the target cell will determine how an organ will respond to a drug at a specific time of the day, thus modulating pharmacodynamics. Thus, it is now time that circadian factors become an integral part of translational research.

Toward the Use of Chronopharmacology for Precision and Personalized Medicine. (Source:


Research in the Canlon lab is funded by Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health R21DC013172 and 1R56DC016415-01, the Swedish Medical Research Council K2014-99X-22478-01-3, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (B.C., #KAW2008), the Karolinska Institutet, Tysta Skolan, Hörselforskningsfonden, Magnus Bergvalls, and the EU (H2020-MSCA-ITN, ESIT, C.R.C., project #722046). B.C. and C.R.C. also received funding from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, through the Neurosensory and Rehabilitation program, under award no. W81XWH-16-1-0032. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the authors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Department of Defense. Research in the Helfrich-Förster lab is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG; FO207/15-1) and the EU (H2020-MSCA-ITN-2017, CINCHRON, project #765937). C.B.G. was supported by NIH grant R35 GM127122. J.S.T. is an Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. M.H.H. was funded by the UK Medical Research Council, U.K. (MC_U105170643). Research in the U.A. lab is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF 310030_184667/1) and the Velux Foundation (no. 995). F.L. was funded by CRUK (C53561/A 19933), MRC (MR/M013170), Philips Respironics (USA), the McGrath Family, and Ramsay-Generale-de-Sante (Fr). J.B.’s work was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) grants R01DK090625, R01DK100814, R01DK11301, and R01DK050203; the National Institute on Aging grant P01AG011412; the Chicago Biomedical Consortium S-007; and the University of Chicago Diabetes Research and Training Center grant P60DK020595. F.G. received support from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland. S.A.B. is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Velux Foundation, and the Human Frontiers Science Program. M.Y. is supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (GM054339).

Featured CBC Community member(s):

Joseph Bass, NU


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