Stuart Peirson

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Stuart Peirson

Professor of Circadian Neuroscience ​​​​​

01865 618674

Research group

Sleep & Circadian Neuroscience Institute



My research focuses on how light regulates physiology and behaviour, with a particular interest in how our modern artificial light environment may disrupt these processes. The retina contains photoreceptors that mediate the tasks of vision as well the regulation of circadian rhythms, sleep and alertness. The central aim of my work is to understand how light information is transmitted from photoreceptor to brain to drive these responses. Research in my lab depends upon molecular biology and genomics, as well as optogenetics and chemogenetics. We also study behavioural responses including circadian rhythms, sleep and cognitive function. Photobiology, statistics and bioinformatics critically underpin our work.


I am Professor of Circadian Neuroscience and Group Leader in the fundamental neuroscience theme of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institution (SCNi). After completing my PhD in Neuroscience at the Institute of Ophthalmology UCL I moved to Imperial College to work as a postdoc. During this time I also acted as technical supervisor for the quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) facility at Charing Cross Hospital. During my subsequent work, I contributed to the identification of the melanopsin pRGC system in humans as well as the characterisation of melanopsin signalling pathways. I was appointed as a Lecturer at Imperial College in 2005 before moving to the University of Oxford in 2006. My 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.