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Prof David Whitmore

Prof David Whitmore

David Whitmore is Professor of Chronobiology in the UCL Research Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, and Centre for Cell and Molecular Dynamics.

He trained with Professor Gene Block at the University of Virginia, studying circadian clocks in the molluscs Bulla and Aplysia, before moving to the IGBMC in Strasbourg, where he was involved in the development of zebrafish as a model system for clock analysis.

The laboratory at UCL has continued to develop this system with the establishment of luminescent clock-containing cell lines, which allow for the dynamic imaging of rhythmic gene expression in living cells.

Office: 020 7679 6585, (Int: 46585)
Lab: 020 7679 6132, (Int: 46132)

View Prof Whitmore's Lab website here


Our early circadian studies in zebrafish revealed several rather unexpected results. Initially, we were able to show that individual tissues within the adult contained their own independent circadian clock, and secondly, that these cells are themselves directly light responsive. This represented one of the earliest demonstrations of peripheral circadian organization. Since then, this observation has been extended to the earliest stages of embryo development, as well as to cells in culture.

This raises certain fundamental questions that our laboratory continues to explore. How do these cells and tissues directly detect light, and what general cellular processes does light influence? What is the central mechanism of this cellular clock, and what aspects of cell biology are controlled by the pervasive presence of a clock in each cell?

By employing a range of standard molecular techniques, retroviral approaches, and live cell imaging, we aim to explore how light and internal time measurement influence cell and neural physiology. Luminescent imaging allows us to see how the cellular clock changes dynamically in living cells as the levels of light and dark alter across the day. Similar approaches can be employed to follow changes in the regulation of downstream rhythmic events, such as the timing of cell division and activation of DNA repair.

In collaboration of Dr Yoshiyuki Yamamoto, we are also involved in field studies to explore how the fish circadian clock works under natural conditions in both rivers and cave complexes found in Northern Mexico.


1996  PhD, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.
Postdoctoral Fellow, IGBMC, Strasbourg, France.
2000  Research Scientist, Max Planck Institute, Tuebingen, Germany.
2001  Lecturer, University College London.
2005  Reader of Chronobiology, University College London.
2010  Professor of Chronobiology, University College London.
 Head, Research Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University College London.

Selected Publications

  • Beale A, Guibal C, Tamai TK, Klotz L, Cowen S, Peyric E, Reynoso VH, Yamamoto Y and Whitmore D (2013) Circadian rhythms in Mexican blind cavefish Astyanax mexicanus in the lab and in the field. Nat Commun. 4: 2769.
  • Peyric E, Moore HA and Whitmore D (2013) Circadian clock regulation of the cell cycle in the zebrafish intestine. PLoS One 8: e73209.
  • Martín-Robles ÁJ, Whitmore D, Pendón C, Muñoz-Cueto JA (2013)Differential effects of transient constant light-dark conditions on daily rhythms of Period and Clock transcripts during Senegalese sole metamorphosis.Chronobiol Int. 30: 699-710.
  • Laranjeiro R, Tamai TK, Peyric E, Krusche P, Ott S and Whitmore D (2013) Cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p20 controls circadian cell-cycle timing. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110: 6835-6840.
  • Tamai TK, Young LC, Cox CA and Whitmore D (2012) Light acts on the zebrafish circadian clock to suppress rhythmic mitosis and cell proliferation. J Biol Rhythms 27: 226-236.
  • Dekens, M.P. and Whitmore, D. (2008) Autonomous onset of the circadian clock in the zebrafish embryo. EMBO Journal 27: 2757-65.
  • Tamai, T.K., Young, L.C., and Whitmore, D. (2007) Light signalling to the zebrafish circadian clock by Cryptochrome 1a. PNAS 104: 14712-14717.
  • Carr, A.J. and Whitmore, D. (2005) Imaging of single light responsive clock cells reveals fluctuating free-running periods. Nature Cell Biology 7: 319-321.
  • Carr, A.J. and Whitmore, D. (2005) Peripheral Time: Clocks in Organs and Cells. The Biochemist 27: 22-26.
  • Tamai, T.K., Vardhanabhuti, V., Foulkes, N.S. and Whitmore, D. (2004) Early Embryonic Light Detection Improves Survival. Current Biology 14: 104-105.
  • Dekens, M.P., Santoriello, C., Vallone, D., Grassi, G., Whitmore, D. and Foulkes, N.S. (2003) Light regulates the cell cycle in zebrafish. Current Biology 13: 2051-7.
  • Whitmore, D., Foulkes, N.S. and Sassone-Corsi, P. (2000) Light acts directly on organs and cells in culture to set the vertebrate circadian clock. Nature 404: 87-91.
  • Whitmore, D., Foulkes, N.S., Strahle, U. and Sassone-Corsi, P. (1998) Zebrafish Clock rhythmic expression reveals independent peripheral circadian oscillators. Nature Neuroscience 1: 701-707

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