ONTIME concerns development of insights and applications related to the circadian clock, aiming to use chronobiology to improve health and quality of life. Daily clocks are ubiquitous in nature, controlling all aspects of biology from gene expression to behaviour, from microbes to humans. However, although our endogenous circadian clock rules our physiology, we typically relegate timing decisions to the social clock. In doing so, we incur deficits in e.g. nutrition and cognitive function. Chronic health problems that are epidemic in modern culture are linked with living against the clock. Here, we propose a set of projects that will lead to improved synchronisation (decreased misalignment) of biological and social clocks in old and young, in students and shift workers, in health and in sickness. Since complete, population-wide synchrony of internal and external clocks will never be possible, we will also probe mechanisms leading to deficits and pathologies, so as to design effective interventions.

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This research is supported by the Dutch Technology Foundation STW, which is the applied science division of NWO, and the Technology Programme of the Ministry of Economic Affairs.