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Faculty Profile

Michael Rea

Department of Biology and Biochemistry

Office: Science & Research 2, 254
Contact: - (713) 743-2682

Education: Ph.D., Ph.D., Indiana University


In mammals, the biological clock that drives circadian rhythms in physiology and behavior is located in the anterior hypothalamus in a region known as the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN). Although the rhythm generation mechanism is an intrinsic property of the SCN, the phase of the SCN circadian clock is regulated by certain environmental and homeostatic influences. For example, SCN-driven rhythms are normally synchronized, or "entrained," to the environmental light-dark cycle. This occurs as a consequence of daily, light-induced adjustments of the phase of the circadian clock.

Work in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Rea is currently focused on the neurochemical mechanisms through which environmental light, and other phase altering stimuli, "reset" the circadian clock in the rodent brain. Toward this end, the lab employs a variety of experimental approaches, including brain slice neurophysiology, optical and electrical recording of neuronal activity in primary cultures of SCN neurons, molecular biological approaches, intracerebral microdialysis and behavioral neuropharmacology.

Of particular interest are: (1) the neurochemical events responsible for the regulation of circadian phase by light; (2) the role of serotonin in the regulation of circadian phase; and (3) circadian clock control of gene expression in the SCN. It is anticipated that a detailed understanding of the neurochemical mechanisms responsible for resetting the circadian clock will support the development of pharmacological strategies to control circadian phase in humans.

  • Heller DA, Garga V, Kelleher KJ, Lee TC, Mahbubani S, Sigworth LA, Lee TR, Rea MA. (2005). Patterned networks of mouse hippocampal neurons on peptide-coated gold surfaces. Biomaterials, 26(8):883-9.
  • Sigworth LA, Rea MA (2003). Adenosine A1 receptors regulate the response of the mouse circadian clock to light. Brain Res 960: 246–251.
  • Hallworth RJ, Cato MJ, Colbert CM, Rea MA. (2002) Presynaptic adenosine A1-like receptors regulate retinohypothalamic neurotransmission in the hamster suprachiasmatic nucleus. J. Neurobiol 52: 230-240.
  • Sollars PJ, Ogilvie MD, Rea MA, Pickard GE. (2002). 5-HT1B receptor knockout mice exhibit an enhanced response to constant light. Journal of Biological Rhythms, 17(5):428-37.
  • Elliott KJ, Weber ET, Rea MA. (2001) Adenosine1 receptor agonists inhibit photic phase shifts of the circadian activity rhythm in hamsters. Eur J Pharmacol 414:45-53.
  • Rea MA, Pickard GE, (2000) Serotonergic modulation of photic entrainment in the Syrian hamster. Biological Rhythm Research 31: 284 - 314.
  • Rea MA, Pickard GE, (2000) 5-HT1B receptor agonist inhibits light-induced suppression of pineal melatonin production. Brain Res 858: 424-428.
  • Pickard GE, Smith BN, Belenky M, Rea MA, Dudek FE, Sollars PJ. (1999) 5HT1B receptor-mediated presynaptic inhibition of retinal input to the suprachiasmatic nucleus. J. Neuroscience 19:4034-4045.
  • Rea, MA (1998) Neurochemistry of Photic Entrainment. Chronobiology International 15: 395-423.
  • Weber ET, Gannon RL, Rea MA (1998) Local administration of serotonin agonists blocks light-induced phase advances of the circadian activity rhythm in hamsters. J Biological Rhythms 13: 209-218.
  • Pickard GE, Weber ET, Scott PA, Riberdy A, Rea MA. (1996) 5HT1B receptor agonists inhibit light-induced phase shifts of behavioral circadian rhythms and expression of the immediate-early gene, c-fos, in the suprachiasmatic nucleus. J. Neuroscience 16:8208.
  • Senseman, DM, Rea MA (1994) Fast multisite optical recording of mono- and polysynaptic activity in the hamster suprachiasmatic nucleus evoked by retinohypothalamic tract stimulation. NeuroImage 1:247-63.
  • Ding JM, Chen D, Weber ET, Faiman LE, Rea MA, and Gillette MU (1994) Resetting the biological clock: Mediation of nocturnal circadian shifts by glutamate and nitric oxide. Science 266: 1713-1717.
  • Lovenberg, TW, Baron BM, de Lecea L, Miller JD, Prosser RA, Rea MA, Foye PE, Danielson PE, Sutcliffe JG, Erlander MG (1993) A novel adenylate cyclase-activating serotonin receptor (5-HT7) implicated in the regulation of mammalian circadian rhythms. Neuron 11:449-458.