Citation: Kramer A, Lange T, Spies C, Finger A-M, Berg D, Oster H (2022) Foundations of circadian medicine. PLoS Biol 20(3): e3001567.


The circadian clock is an evolutionarily highly conserved endogenous timing program that structures physiology and behavior according to the time of day. Disruption of circadian rhythms is associated with many common pathologies. The emerging field of circadian medicine aims to exploit the mechanisms of circadian physiology and clock–disease interaction for clinical diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. In this Essay, we outline the principle approaches of circadian medicine, highlight the development of the field in selected areas, and point out open questions and challenges. Circadian medicine has unambiguous health benefits over standard care but is rarely utilized. It is time for clock biology to become an integrated part of translational research.

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