Shelley Tischkau, PhD

Chair and Professor of Pharmacology, Professor, Department of Medical Education
Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology

    About me



    Professional Experience

    Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology, Springfield IL  2007

    Research Interest and Specialties

    Dr. Tischkau is a broadly trained neuroendocrinologist, with specific expertise in the design and conduct of studies that examine the function of the circadian timing system at the molecular, physiological and behavioral levels. Her lab has focused on understanding systemic control of circadian rhythms, with particular emphasis on regulation of the master clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, its relationship to environmental signals and mechanisms by which circadian timing is conveyed throughout organisms. An understanding of how light affects the master clock allowed the development of environmental paradigms that mimic clock disturbances in real-life scenarios to disrupt the systemic circadian timing system. Circadian clock disruptions are now associated with disease states ranging from metabolic syndrome and cancer to mental health and neurodegenerative disease. Currently, the Tischkau lab focuses on the contributions of the circadian clock to metabolic and brain health. Two major projects are ongoing.

    Project 1: Clock regulation of metabolic health through aryl hydrocarbon receptor

    The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a PAS-domain containing nuclear receptor. Its similarity to circadian clock components led the Tischkau lab to explore its interactions with the molecular circadian clock. The lab has discovered a complex, reciprocal relationship between AhR signaling and the clock. AhR depletion enhances rhythms and supports metabolic health. Chronic AhR activation suppresses rhythms and promotes obesity and metabolic syndrome. These effects occur subsequent to desynchrony between the central and peripheral circadian systems with AhR acting as a prominent regulator of both circadian file:///C:/Users/kfranklin/Dropbox%20(SIU%20School%20of%20Medicine)/Dr.%20Tischkau/Tischkau-2390.crop.jpgand metabolic function in liver and adipose tissues. Ongoing studies use pharmacologic approaches together with genetic manipulation (mouse models) to explore AhR as a target for combating metabolic disease through its interactions with the clock.

    Project 2: Clock regulation of neuronal health in aging  

    Circadian rhythms are important regulators of sleep and brain health. Circadian disruption alters sleep, but also contributes to neurodegeneration.  This project is focused on mechanisms by which circadian disruption contributes to neuronal demise. The lab has demonstrated that circadian disruption enhances memory impairment in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.  Ongoing studies build on this initial discovery to examine mechanisms by which output from the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) impacts hippocampal function. Alterations in SCN-hippocampal neural circuitry imposed by circadian disruption are explored in normal aging and in Alzheimer’s models using genetically modified mice.




    Education & training

    Undergraduate Degree
    BS, Biology, Truman State University
    MS, Biology, Truman State University
    MS, Molecular & Integrative Physiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    PhD, Molecular & Integrative Physiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


    NIH R15 ES030556  “Aryl hydrocarbon receptor regulation of energy metabolism”, 2020-2023


    1989 - 1991                  U of I List of Teachers Ranked Excellent by Their Students

    1991 - 1993                  NIH Pre-doctoral Fellowship, Reproductive Biology Training Grant,

    1993, 1994                    Constance Campbell Research Award                            

    1993 - 1994                  NIH Pre-doctoral Fellowship, Systems and Integrative Biology Training Grant,

    1994, 1995                    U of I Graduate College Travel Award

    1996 - 1998                  NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship, Individual National Research Service Award

    1998 - 1999                  NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship, Individual National Research Service Award

    1999 - 2006                  U of I List of Teachers Ranked Excellent by Their Students

    2004 - 2006                  Membership in UIUC College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Academy

    2004, 2006                    ISCAVMA Teaching Excellence Award

    2005                               College of Veterinary Medicine Helen and Norman Levine Research Award Finalist

    2005                               College of Veterinary Medicine Norton Teaching Award Finalist

    2014                               SIU School of Medicine Outstanding Educator Award

    2014 - present             SIU School of Medicine Academy Scholar

    2014                               Society of Toxicology, Best Paper Award, Honorable Mention


    Related articles

    Jesse Britz

    Losing Sleep Over It: Researching the Link Between Alzheimer's and Circadian Disruption

    A pharmacology and neuroscience student at SIU School of Medicine, Jesse Britz, along with Shelley Tischkau, PhD, and the Smith Alzheimer's Center Hascup Labs , recently researched the link between