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Dr. Benjamin Smarr combines his experience in research focused on developing personalized, predictive tools for future medicine and education to specialize in circadian rhythm, sleep and computational biology at a postdoctoral fellowship at UC Berkeley.
Dr. Sohaib Imitaz: Hi, guys. Welcome to another episode of the Body Clock podcast by Owaves. Today, I have Dr. Benjamin Smarr, who is a scientific adviser for Owaves. Benjamin has a very rich academic career. He has been a Ph. D. student at the University of Washington in neurobiology and behavior.
He also studied at the University of California and now he’s a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley specializing in circadian rhythm, sleep, computational biology, neuroscience, and I’m sure he’ll be telling you a lot more about his background. Benjamin has been working with our Owaves team. And he’s one of our experts and we’re very fortunate to have him on the podcast. This is going to be a deep dive into everything sleep and time.
So Benjamin describes himself as a time specialist from a physiological perspective. So I think he’ll be amazing knowledge for students listening to this and the general public. And I’m quite excited to learn a lot from Ben. So hi, Ben. How are you?
Dr. Benjamin Smarr: I’m doing really well. Thanks for having me on. That’s a very kind introduction.
Dr. Sohaib Imitaz: No, I think you deserve it. I mean, we’ve been very lucky to have you on Owaves and shaping where our app is going. And that’s very telling in all the kind of studies we’re trying to carry out. But you are actually the first sleep specialist.
I know you have a lot more than that, but we have not actually had a guest who knows much about sleep on the podcast as of yet. We’ve had quite a few people with nutrition, exercise, mental health so I would really like if you could add a lot to that angle, as I’m sure you will. So to start off with, can you explain to listeners how you got interested in lifestyle and your background? What kind of data and what you believe in for where healthcare is going?
Dr. Benjamin Smarr: Yeah, that’s a great question. I’d like to tell people that I’m a recovering biologist. So I had all of my schooling. In fact, since I was a little kid, I was really interested in watching bugs and figuring out about behavior and sort of what makes people tick eventually got me into neuroscience. And at some point I realized we do all of this research on cells or on model organisms and yet we really don’t know what the humans look like that we’re comparing to.
We really don’t know how behavior, hormones, neural activity, anything is actually changing across the day in a way that helps to make us healthier or not. We have this sort of snapshot view, right, where you say the knee bone is connected to the shinbone. So that how your cholesterol should be within some given human range or temperature or anything else. And, you know, so somebody comes into the clinic and you go, yeah, your heart rate is within the human range of heart rates.
That’s got to be good, right? Your cholesterol is within the human range of cholesterol values. That’s got to be good. And what we’re missing, what I got into in grad school,