David Earnest's research interests include cellular and molecular neurobiology of mammalian circadian rhythms.
Normal regulation of 24-hour or circadian rhythms by the master biological clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and by peripheral clocks throughout the body has an important impact on human health by providing for the temporal coordination of internal processes to occur at the “right time” relative to each other and to the external environment. Pathologies and environmental disturbances in the regulation of circadian rhythms have been linked to variety of human health disorders including obesity and diabetes, increased cancer risk, cardiovascular disease, sleep-wake cycle disturbances, and depression. Research in my laboratory employs multidisciplinary approaches to study the cellular and molecular neurobiology of cell-autonomous circadian clocks and the signal transduction pathway responsible for circadian photoentrainment. The aims of current projects are to study: 1) the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) and other signaling molecules in the local temporal coordination of cell- and tissue-specific circadian clocks; 2) mutual interactions between the circadian clock mechanism, inflammatory signaling and metabolism; and 3) the mechanisms linking circadian rhythm disruption with metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes, and with pathological changes in neuroprotective responses to stroke.