The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Eric L. Bittman


Research areas are in chronobiology and neuroendocrinology.

Current Research
My research concerns biological rhythms and their role in physiological coordination. Neurological and physiological processes must be coordinated in time in order for normal function to be achieved, and health is compromised when underlying oscillators are misaligned. Not only does jet lag indicate how health and performance can deteriorate, but neurogenesis and learning are compromised while addictive processes and neurodegenerative changes are aggravated when circadian oscillators are compromised. My work investigates the operation of transcriptional-translational feedback loops that underlie circadian rhythms in both the central hypothalamic pacemaker and its subordinate oscillators, as well as the connectome that links them.

A master clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus regulates the timing of a wide variety of functions elsewhere in the brain and in the peripheral organs. The molecular basis of the pacemaker is a transcriptional-translational feedback loop, and the expression of a handful of core clock genes determines the phase and period of circadian oscillations. We use immunocytochemical and molecular (hybridization) techniques to localize and quantify the expression of circadian clock as well as clock-controlled genes in the brain and peripheral organs. We are engaged in discovery of core clock components through mutational analysis, which is facilitated by the use of next generation sequencing and real-time luminescent reporting of circadian function in cell lines.

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Academic Background:

  • BA University of Pennsylvania, 1973
  • PhD University of California, Berkeley, 1978
  • Postdoctoral Training: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 1878-82
Bittman, E.L., 2019. Circadian function in multiple cell types is necessary for proper timing of the preovulatory LH surge. J. Biol. Rhythms, in press.
Manoogian ENC, Kumar A, Obed D, Bergan J, Bittman EL. 2018. Suprachiasmatic function in a circadian period mutant: Duper alters light-induced activation of vasoactive intestinal peptide cells and PERIOD1 immunostaining. Eur J Neurosci. 2018 Dec;48(11):3319-3334. doi: 10.1111/ejn.14214.
Manoogian, ENC, Leise, TL, and Bittman, EL, 2014. Phase restting in duper hamsters: Specificity to photic zeitgebers and circadian phase. J Biol Rhythms, in press.
Bittman, EL, 2014. Effects of the duper mutation on responses to light: Parametric and non-parametric responses, range of entrainment, and masking. J. Biol. Rhythms, 29:97-109. PMID:24682204
Mahoney CE, McKinley Brewer J, and Bittman, EL, 2013. Central control of circadian phase in arousal-promoting neurons. PLoS One 8(6):e67173. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067173. PMID:2382622
Bittman EL, Kilduff TS, Kriegsfeld LJ, Szymusiak R, Toth LA, Turek FW. 2013. Animal care practices in experiments on biological rhythms and sleep: report of the joint task force of the society for research on biological rhythms and the sleep research society. J Am Assn Lab Anim Sci. 2013;52(4):437-43. PMID:23849440
Bittman, E.L., 2012. Does the Precision of a Biological Clock Depend upon Its Period? Effects of the Duper and tau Mutations in Syrian Hamsters. PLoS ONE 7(5): e36119. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036119. PMID:22615753
Monecke S, McKinley Brewer J, Krug S, and Bittman, EL, 2011. Duper: A mutation that shortens hamster circadian period. J. Biol. Rhythms 26:283-292. PMID21775287
Krug S, McKinley Brewer J, Bois AS, and Bittman, EL, 2011. Effects of the Duper mutation on circadian responses to light. J. Biol. Rhythms 26:293-304. PMID21775288
Mahoney, CB, Costello, MK, Brewer, D, Brewer, JM, Schwartz, WJ, and Bittman, EL, 2009. Lateralization of the pacemaker output: A test of neural control of peripheral oscillator phase. Amer J Physio Reg Integ Comp Physiol 299:R751-61. PMID: 20592176
Contact Info

Department of Biology
420G Morrill II South
North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01003

(413) 545-4344