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Dutch researchers are joining forces with a series of societal partners to conduct research into how to keep our biological clock healthy in the modern 24-hour society. The BioClock consortium will receive a research grant of no less than 9.7 million euros for this. It is one of the projects that receive funding within the program of the Dutch National Research Agenda of the Dutch National Research Council (NWO), for which the public could submit questions.

The UvA Faculty of Science's contribution to the BioClock project mainly focuses on the influence of artificial light on insects. Such as moths. Moths are known to be attracted to lights; how does the artificial light that we as humans produce influence their lives, and factors such as mating succes? Image: Jan van Arkel

Our biological clock is disrupted by the 24-hour society in which we now live. The goal of the BioClock consortium is to restore and preserve the health of the biological clock. The plans cover the society as a whole: from human health and disease to the natural environment and protection of biodiversity. Topics such as the health effects of shift work, the integration of the biological clock into the educational system, optimal timing of cancer immunotherapy and flu vaccinations, chronotherapy for depression, and the consequences of light pollution on insects and other light-sensitive animals are all covered in the six-year research program.

Concrete applications

BioClock is internationally unparalleled in the scope and applicability of biological clock research. Many of the academic consortium members have contributed to years of fundamental research on this topic. With the grant that has now been awarded, they will elaborate on this and work on concrete applications for society.

With the biological clock at the center, the partners from the consortium will jointly develop strategies to contribute to a sustainable future for our planet and its inhabitants. The project leader is Joke Meijer, professor of neurophysiology at the LUMC. In addition to eight other universities, the research consortium consists of dozens of members from the public and semi-public sectors and industry: from RIVM to municipalities and from environmental organizations to occupational health services.

Focus at the UvA

From the University of Amsterdam, professor Astrid Groot and her colleague Gerard Oostermeijer are involved in the project. Groot is leading two sub-projects that mainly deal with the influence of light pollution on nature. For example, what is the influence of the artificial light that we as humans produce on the activity of all kinds of insects? And on the animals that feed on these insects and their larvae, such as birds and bats? Do the animals also switch to a sort of 24-hour economy; and how does this influence their chances of survival or reproductive success?

In addition, the UvA-affiliated Amsterdam UMC will conduct research into the influences of our modern day rhythms on human health. As one of the partners in this project Andries Kalsbeek (NIN/Amsterdam UMC), together with Dirk Jan Stenvers (Amsterdam UMC) and Joram Mul (SILS-UvA), will investigate in animal models how exercise affects the central clock in the brain and how the correct timing of exercise and food intake can reduce the negative metabolic effects of shift work.


The full list of partners within the BioClock Consortium is: Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), Amsterdam UMC, Hogeschool van Amsterdam (HvA), Erasmus MC, Hogeschool Van Hall Larenstein HvHL, Universiteit Leiden, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Institute of Biology Leiden (IBL), Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR), Nederlands Herseninstituut NIN, NIOO-KNAW, Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu RIVM, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven TU/e, TNO, Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht UMCU, ARTIS, Centre for Human Drug Research (CHDR), Chrono Eyewear bv, Chrono@Work, Edelris, Gemeente Amsterdam, Gemeente Apeldoorn, Gemeente Den Haag, Gemeente Leiden, Gemeente Rotterdam, Gemeente Texel, Gemeente Utrecht, Geestelijke gezondheidszorg voor mensen in Eindhoven en omgeving (GGzE), Good Light Group, Hersenstichting, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Jeroen Bosch Ziekenhuis, KWF Kanker Bestrijding, Leyden Academy on Vitality & Ageing, Methylomics BV, MediluX BV, NEMO Science Museum, OcellO, Peira, Technolab, Witte Raaf, Algemeen Verbond Van Volkstuinders Verenigingen in Nederland (AVVN), Caring Universities Consortium, Gemeente Putten, Glastuinbouw Nederland, Globe at Night, Holland Rijnland, International Dark Sky Association (IDA), Leids Universitair Behandel- en Expertise Centrum (LUBEC), Naturalis, Natuur & Milieufederaties, Nederlands instituut voor onderzoek van de gezondheidszorg (NIVEL), Openbare Verlichting Nederland (OVLNL), Platform Betere Tijden, Rijkswaterstaat, Smart City program, Gemeente Rotterdam, Vereniging van Ouders van Couveusekinderen, Vreeken’s Zaden, Water Authority Hunze en Aa’s.