- Circadian and Visual Neuroscience (Peirson) Research Group
Stuart Peirson is an Associate Professor in the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology. After completing his PhD in Neuroscience at the Institute of Ophthalmology UCL he moved to Imperial College to work as a BBSRC postdoctoral Research Associate. During this time Dr Peirson also acted as technical supervisor for the quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) facility at Charing Cross Hospital. Subsequently, working as a Wellcome Trust Research Associate, Dr Peirson contributed to the identification of the melanopsin pRGC system in humans as well as the characterisation of melanopsin signalling pathways. Dr Peirson was appointed as a Lecturer at Imperial College in 2005 before moving to the University of Oxford in 2006. His work has continued to focus upon characterising the signalling pathways mediating the effects of light on physiology and behaviour, with the aim of identifying novel targets for the regulation of circadian rhythms and sleep. Through collaborations with clinical colleagues in the Oxford Eye Hospital he has also been involved in evaluating the impact of ocular disease on sleep and circadian rhythms.
My research focuses on how the light environment regulates physiology and behaviour. The vertebrate retina contains photoreceptors that mediate the dual tasks of image formation and irradiance (brightness) detection. These irradiance detection tasks include the regulation of the circadian clock, locomotor activity, sleep/wake timing, pupil constriction, pineal melatonin synthesis, heart rate and cognitive performance. The central aims of this work are to understand how light information is transmitted from photoreceptor to brain and to identify the exent to which physiology and behaviour is regulated by light. This work relies upon the a range of molecular techniques such as the measurement of gene expression, in vitro and in vivo gene silencing, as well as an array of behavioural techniques including activity and sleep monitoring, cognitive testing and assays of retinal function such as pupillometry. Photobiology and biostatistics critically underpin this work.
Sources of Funding
The CRTC1-SIK1 pathway regulates entrainment of the circadian clock.
Jagannath A. et al, (2013), Cell, 154, 1100 - 1111
Using siRNA to define functional interactions between melanopsin and multiple G Protein partners.
Hughes S. et al, (2015), Cell Mol Life Sci, 72, 165 - 179
Measuring and using light in the melanopsin age.
Lucas RJ. et al, (2014), Trends Neurosci, 37, 1 - 9
Nonuniform distribution and spectral tuning of photosensitive retinal ganglion cells of the mouse retina
Hughes S. et al, (2013), Current Biology, 23, 1696 - 1701
d-amino acid oxidase knockout (Dao(-/-) ) mice show enhanced short-term memory performance and heightened anxiety, but no sleep or circadian rhythm disruption.
Pritchett D. et al, (2015), Eur J Neurosci, 41, 1167 - 1179
The hypothalamic photoreceptors regulating seasonal reproduction in birds: A prime role for VA opsin.
García-Fernández JM. et al, (2015), Front Neuroendocrinol, 37, 13 - 28
Sleep-like behavior and 24-h rhythm disruption in the Tc1 mouse model of Down syndrome.
Heise I. et al, (2015), Genes Brain Behav, 14, 209 - 216
A lack of functional NK1 receptors explains most, but not all, abnormal behaviours of NK1R-/- mice(1).
Porter AJ. et al, (2015), Genes Brain Behav, 14, 189 - 199
Photic regulation of clock systems
Hughes S. et al, (2015), Methods in Enzymology, 552, 125 - 143