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Dr. Welsh earned his undergraduate degree at Stanford University, where he began a long-standing interest in circadian rhythms and sleep. In graduate work at Harvard Medical School, he discovered that individual brain cells can generate circadian rhythms. He received a Ph.D. in Neurobiology and an M.D. from Harvard in 1997, then completed a residency in general psychiatry at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, in Pittsburgh. After two years as a postdoctoral research fellow, he joined the faculty of the UCSD Department of Psychiatry in 2003. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department, and a Staff Psychiatrist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.
In mammals, a hierarchical system of circadian clock cells in the brain and throughout the body orchestrates daily patterns of physiology and behavior. These daily patterns persist under constant conditions as "circadian rhythms". Dr. Welsh studies circadian rhythms in single cells using bioluminescence imaging to monitor clock gene expression. He is interested in the autonomy, heterogeneity, and coupling of cellular circadian clocks, particularly the "master" clock cells of the brain, the neurons of the suprachiasmatic nucleus. He is also interested in how defects in these mechanisms may contribute to sleep and circadian rhythm disorders in humans.
Dr. Welsh is a Staff Psychiatrist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. He practices general adult psychiatry in the mood disorders clinic.
- Welsh DK, Takahashi JS, Kay SA. Suprachiasmatic nucleus: cell autonomy and network properties. Annu Rev Physiol 72:551-77, 2010.
- Ko CH, Yamada YR, Welsh DK, Buhr ED, Liu AC, Zhang EE, Ralph MR, Kay SA, Forger DB, Takahashi JS. Emergence of noise-induced oscillations in the central circadian pacemaker. PLoS Biol 8(10):e1000513, 2010.
- Leise TL, Wang CW, Gitis PJ, Welsh DK. Persistent cell-autonomous circadian oscillations in fibroblasts revealed by six-week single-cell imaging of PER2::LUC bioluminescence. PLoS One 7:e33334, 2012.
- Noguchi T, Wang CW, Pan H, Welsh DK. Fibroblast circadian rhythms of PER2 expression depend on membrane potential and intracellular calcium. Chronobiol Int 29:653-64, 2012.
- McCarthy MJ, Welsh DK. Cellular circadian clocks in mood disorders. J Biol Rhythms 27:339-52, 2012.
- Evans JA, Pan H, Liu AC, Welsh DK. Cry1-/- circadian rhythmicity depends on SCN intercellular coupling. J Biol Rhythms 27:443-52, 2012.