- 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 on photopigments and circadian biology 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. 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 on circadian photobiology, characterisation of genes involved in circadian entrainment and identification of 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
Sleep-like behavior and 24 hour rhythm disruption in the Tc1 mouse model of Down syndrome.
Heise I. et al, (2015), Genes Brain Behav
Genetic background influences age-related decline in visual and nonvisual retinal responses, circadian rhythms, and sleep.
Banks G. et al, (2015), Neurobiol Aging, 36, 380 - 393
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
The hypothalamic photoreceptors regulating seasonal reproduction in birds: A prime role for VA opsin.
García-Fernández JM. et al, (2014), Front Neuroendocrinol
Behavioural Characterisation of the D-amino Acid Oxidase (DAO) Knockout Mouse: Heightened Anxiety and Enhanced Short-Term Memory
Pritchett D. et al, (2014), Biological Psychiatry, 75, 179S - 179S