Nicolas Cermakian

Basic Neuroscience

Nicolas Cermakian

E-2108, Perry Pavilion

6875 Boulevard LaSalle
Montréal, QC
H4H 1R3

(514) 761-6131 x4936

Research area: 
Basic Neuroscience / Animal Research

Research Theme: 
Stress, mood and impulsivity disorders

Lab images - click to enlarge: 
Cermakian lab logo
Cermakian lab - May 2015

Researcher, Douglas Research Centre
Full Professor, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University
Associate Member, Department of Physiology, McGill University
Associate Member, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, McGill University
Associate Member, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University

Molecular chronobiology

Many physiological processes present near-24h oscillations, even in constant conditions (e.g. hormones, metabolism, cognition). These daily rhythms are called circadian rhythms, and they are generated by clocks located in most organs and cells throughout the body. The research in the Laboratory of Molecular Chronobiology aims at deciphering how these clocks work, and more specifically, to find an answer to three questions: What are the mechanisms or gears of these biological clocks? How can these clocks control physiology? How can dysfunction of these clocks lead to diseases?

1. Clock genes, behaviour and mental health.
Using a combination of molecular, cellular and behavioural approaches, we study the molecular bases of circadian clocks. Recently, the characterization of mice knock-out for the deubiquitinase USP2 allows us to better define the links between the clocks, environmental light and behaviour. This can be put in parallel with our studies on circadian rhythms in a mouse model of schizophrenia and those on clock gene expression in psychiatric disorders.

2. Circadian rhythms and the immune system.
We study the circadian control of immune responses (in collaboration with Dr. Nathalie Labrecque, University of Montreal, Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital). Notably, we reported that T lymphocytes display a circadian rhythm in their response to antigens. In another study we showed that inflammation causes strong changes in clock gene expression in peripheral tissues of the rat. This project, which links chronobiology and immunology, illustrates the role of circadian clocks in the response to infections and cancer.

3. Expression of clock genes in humans and implications for shift workers and other populations at risk.
The study of clock genes in white blood cells of human subjects in time-isolation laboratory (with Dr. Diane Boivin, Douglas Institute) allows us to ask questions on the environmental, physiological and pharmacological control of human clocks. In particular, we apply this approach to the study of shift work, and the effect of luminotherapy and pharmacological treatments.

Koshy, A., Cuesta, M., Boudreau, P., Cermakian, N.#, Boivin, D.B.# (2019) Disruption of central and peripheral circadian clocks in police officers working at night. FASEB Journal, 2019 Feb 27:fj201801889R. doi: 10.1096/fj.201801889R.

Nobis, C.C., Labrecque, N., Cermakian, N. (2018) From immune homeostasis to inflammation, a question of rhythms. Current Opinion in Physiology, 5:90-98. NB: Invited peer-reviewed review article.

Kervezee, L., Cuesta, M., Cermakian, N.#, Boivin, D.B.# (2018) Simulated night shift work induces circadian misalignment of the human peripheral blood mononuclear cell transcriptome. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 115(21):5540-5545.

Kiessling, S., Dubeau-Laramée, G., Ohm, H., Labrecque, N., Olivier, M., Cermakian, N. (2017) The circadian clock in immune cells controls the magnitude of Leishmania parasite infection. Scientific Reports, 7:10892.

Kiessling, S., Beaulieu-Laroche, L., Blum, I., Landgraf, D., Welsh, D.K., Storch, K.F., Labrecque, N., Cermakian, N. (2017) Enhancing circadian clock function in cancer cells inhibits tumor growth. BMC Biology, 15:13.

Cuesta, M., Boudreau, P., Dubeau-Laramée, G., Cermakian, N., Boivin, D.B. (2016) Simulated night shift disrupts circadian rhythms of immune functions in humans. Journal of Immunology, 196(6):2466-75.

Labrecque, N., Cermakian, N. (2015) Circadian clocks in the immune system. Journal of Biological Rhythms, 30(4):277-290.

Bhardwaj, S.K., Stojkovic, K., Kiessling, S., Srivastava, L.K., Cermakian, N. (2015) Constant light uncovers behavioral effects of a mutation in the schizophrenia risk gene Dtnbp1 in mice. Behavioural Brain Research, 284:58-68.

Cuesta M, Cermakian N, Boivin DB. Glucocorticoids entrain molecular clock components in human peripheral cells. FASEB J. 2015;29(4):1360-70. Stojkovic, K., Wing, S.S., Cermakian, N. (2014) A central role for ubiquitination within a circadian clock protein modification code. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, 7:69.

Cermakian, N., Lange, T., Golombek, D., Sarkar, D., Nakao, A., Shibata, S., Mazzoccoli, G. (2013) Cross-talk between the circadian clock circuitry and the immune system. Chronobiology International, 30(7):870-888.

Westfall, S., Aguilar-Valles, A., Mongrain, V., Luheshi, G.N., Cermakian, N. (2013) Time-dependent effects of localized inflammation on peripheral clock gene expression in rats. PLoS ONE, 8(3):e59808.

Yang, Y., Duguay, D., Bédard, N., Rachalski, A., Baquiran, G., Na, C.H., Storch, K.F., Peng, J., Wing, S.S., Cermakian, N. (2012) Regulation of behavioral circadian rhythms and clock protein PER1 by the deubiquitinating enzyme USP2. Biology Open, 1:789-801, doi:10.1242/bio.20121990.

Fortier, E.E., Rooney, J., Dardente, H., Hardy, M.P., Labrecque, N., Cermakian, N. (2011) Circadian variation of the response of T cells to antigen. Journal of Immunology, 187(12):6291-300. Epub 2011 Nov 9.

Dufour, C.R., Pham, N.H.H., Levasseur, M.P., Eichner, L.J., Wilson, B.J., Duguay, D., Poirier-Héon, J.F., Cermakian, N., Giguère, V. (2011) Genomic convergence between ERR?, PROX1 and BMAL1 in circadian control of metabolism. PLoS Genetics, 7(6):e1002143.

Cermakian, N., Waddington Lamont, E., Boudreau, P., Boivin, D.B. (2011) Circadian clock gene expression in brain regions of Alzheimer's disease patients and control subjects. Journal of Biological Rhythms, 26(2):160-170. Duguay, D., Cermakian, N. (2009) The crosstalk between physiology and circadian clock proteins. Chronobiology International, 26(8):1479-1513.

Mongrain, V., Ruan, X., Dardente, H., Fortier, E.E., Cermakian, N. (2008) Clock-dependent and independent transcriptional control of the two isoforms from the mouse Ror? gene. Genes to Cells, 13(12):1197-1210.

James, F.O., Boivin, D.B., Charbonneau, S., Bélanger, V., Cermakian, N. (2007) Expression of clock genes in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells throughout the sleep/wake and circadian cycles. Chronobiology International, 24(6):1009-1034.

James, F.O., Cermakian, N., Boivin, D.B. (2007) Circadian rhythms of melatonin, cortisol and clock gene expression to during simulated night shift work. Sleep, 30(11):1427-1436.

Dardente, H., Fortier, E.E., Martineau, V., Cermakian, N. (2007) CRYPTOCHROMES impair phosphorylation of transcriptional activators in the clock: a general mechanism for circadian repression. Biochemical Journal, 402(3):525-536.

Honouree on the 2016-17 Faculty Honour List for Educational Excellence, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University

Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ) salary award (Senior), 2011-14.

John R. & Clara M. Fraser Memorial Award, McGill University Faculty of Medicine, 2010-11.

Dean's Research Recognition Award, McGill University Faculty of Medicine, 2007.

Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ) salary award (Junior 2), 2006-10.

Heinz Lehmann Award from the Douglas Hospital Foundation and Pfizer Canada Inc., 2006.

Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ) salary award (Junior 1), 2002-06.

Geneviève Dubeau Laramée, Research Assistant
Chloé Nobis, Ph.D. Student
Christine Kirady, Research Assistant
Tara Delorme, Masters Student
Shashank Srikanta, PhD Student
Priscilla Cabral, PhD Student

Undergraduate and graduate student and postdoctoral positions are available. For more information:

Recent publications