Steven A. Shea Laboratory

Steve Shea Lab Jan 2016
L-R: Matthew P. Butler, Steven A. Shea, Alec Berman, Noal Clemons, Sally Roberts, Saurabh Thosar, Maya Herzig

Research Interests

The severity of many diseases varies across the 24-hour period. For example, heart attacks occur most frequently in the morning, and asthma is generally worst at night. The focus of Dr. Shea's research is to understand the biological basis behind these changes in disease severity across the day and night, for instance, are they caused by the body clock (endogenous circadian pacemaker) or attributable to behaviors that occur on a regular daily basis, such as the sleep/wake cycle. Understanding the basis of these pathophysiological changes may provide insight into the underlying causes of disease and could lead to better therapy (e.g. appropriate timing of medication), and countermeasures to reduce the adverse health effects of shift work.

Catecholamine bike figure

The Shea lab's recent data (unpublished) illustrates the body's stress response to a standardized bicycle exercise bout at different times of day. Norepenephrine (red) and epinephrine (black) both show variation across the 24-hour day indicating potential circadian control of the hormones' secretion.

Go to Dr. Shea's Faculty page

Current Studies

Circadian Rhythms and Cardiovascular risk:

This study aims to investigate how behaviors and the body's internal clock affect the control of the heart and blood pressure. After 2-4 screening visits, eligible study volunteers will maintain a set sleep schedule at home for up to 3 weeks and then spend 5 consecutive days and nights at our facility while sleep, blood pressure, and other tests and measurements are performed.

Eligible study volunteers will be between the age of 30 and 80 years old with a BMI less than 40 who have no current or previous history of pharmacological hypertension treatment. Eligible participants may have a diagnosis of sleep apnea. Further eligibility is determined during a medical evaluation at no cost to you. Receive up to $1,800 for study completion as well as reasonable parking and transportation cost coverage.

If you are interested in participating, please access our pre-screening survey here:

Cannabis Use Habits and Sleep:

We are seeking subjects to take part in a ~15 minute online research survey about cannabis (i.e. marijuana/hash) use habits including method of ingestion, strain, concentration of cannabis components, and sleep quality.

Eligible participants will be 18+ years old and currently using cannabis products for sleep. You will be adding to research in the field of cannabis, which aims to reduce associated harms while increasing benefits. By completing the survey, you will also be added to a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card.

If you have used marijuana in the past 24 hours, access the survey here:

Postdoctoral Fellows

Saurabh S. Thosar, PhD, MS, OTR/L

Saurabh Thosar, PhD, MS, OTR/L

Saurabh received a B.O.Th in Occupational Therapy from Maharashtra University of Health Science in India, an M.S. in Movement Sciences from the Univ. of Illinois Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Human Performance (Physiology) from Indiana Univ. Bloomington. He is a certified clinical exercise specialist and licensed occupational therapist. Saurabh joined Dr. Shea's group as a postdoctoral fellow in January 2014 and has received a fellowship from the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, an early clinical investigator award from the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon, and a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Thosar studies the interactions between sleep, circadian rhythms and physical inactivity/activity as they relate to cardiovascular disease; and the development of chronotherapeutic countermeasures to cardiovascular risks in vulnerable populations.


Nicole Bowles, PhD

Nicole Bowles, PhD

Dr. Bowles graduated with her Ph.D. from Rockefeller University and went on to earn a master's in clinical epidemiology from Weill Cornell Medical College as a Health Disparities and Community Engagement Research Fellow. Dr. Bowles who joined Dr. Shea's laboratory in August 2016 is currently funded by a Ford Foundation Fellowship; broadly her research focuses on the interplay between stress, endogenous circadian rhythms, and the endocannabinoid system in humans.

Andrew McHill, PhD

Andrew McHill, PhD

Dr. McHill graduated with a Ph.D. in Integrative Physiology with a specialization in sleep and circadian physiology from the University of Colorado Boulder. After graduating, he completed an NIH funded post-doctoral fellowship at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School within the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders and joined the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences in Dr. Shea's Circadian Laboratory in 2016 as a visiting post-doctoral fellow. In July 2017, he became a full time postdoctoral fellow within the institute. Dr. McHill is interested in understanding the contributing mechanisms by which circadian misalignment (i.e. shiftwork or jetlag) and insufficient sleep leads to adverse metabolic health and poor cognitive performance outcomes.