Q&A with Dr. Frank Scheer – AAST’s 2019 Annual Meeting Keynote Speaker
Dr. Frank Scheer is a professor at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Medical Chronobiology Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is also the keynote speaker for AAST’s 2019 Annual Meeting. Specializing in the difference between day/night rhythms and endogenous circadian rhythms, Scheer is interested in how the circadian system can influence things like energy balance and cardiovascular risk factors.
AAST sat down with him to chat about his upcoming keynote and what people can expect from his insightful talk.
AAST: What is the central theme to your keynote?
Dr. Frank Scheer (FS): I am honored to be asked as the opening keynote speaker for the AAST conference. I plan to discuss the central role of the endogenous circadian system and circadian disruption in health and disease, with a focus on cardiometabolic function. Circadian disruption is pervasive in our current society, including due to shift work, (social) jet lag, late night eating, light at night and circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Understanding the consequences and their mechanisms is key in developing targeted therapeutic interventions, including meal timing, exercise timing, and light exposure, to name a few.
AAST: What do you hope people take away from your keynote?
FS: I hope attendees will leave the presentation understanding the characteristics and basic mechanisms of circadian rhythms, realize their wide-spread impact beyond sleep, appreciate the different types and consequences of circadian disruption, specifically circadian misalignment, and pass on to others the fascinating and impressive effects that daily behaviors such as not just what we eat, but also when we eat have on our health.
AAST: Sleep medicine is an ever-changing field, and it’s getting a lot more recognition in recent years. What do you think those in sleep medicine need to be cognizant of in the future?
FS: The sleep field has primarily focused on the clinical relevance, while the circadian field has primarily made progress in basic understanding. In addition to the increasing focus on basic research in the sleep field, I think that the next decade will be highlighted by the growth of clinical focus on circadian rhythms and the beginnings of clinical translation.
AAST: What is one thing that’s really top-of-mind for you in the field of sleep medicine?
FS: As I mentioned just before, the clinical relevance of circadian biology, and the utilization of this knowledge towards the development of novel therapeutic interventions.