S4 Ep 08: The Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN) and the Royal Society

With special guest: Prof Russell Foster

In this episode of S4P, we welcome Russell Foster. Russell is Professor of Circadian Neuroscience, Director of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute (SCNi) and Head of the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology at the University of Oxford. He is also a Fellow at Brasenose College.

Russell’s research spans the neurosciences, but his research is focused upon two questions:

  1. How is environmental light detected and processed by vertebrate photoreceptors for the regulation of circadian rhythms? One of his key findings was the discovery of another class of photoreceptor within the vertebrate eye based upon a small number of photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (pRGCs).  These pRGCs not only regulate circadian rhythms but also sleep & arousal states, heart-rate and pupil constriction;
  2. How are circadian rhythms generated and what happens when these systems break-down in disease and under abnormal environmental conditions?

Russell Chairs the Royal Society Public Engagement Committee, The Cheltenham Science Festival and is a Trustee of the Science Museum Group. He contributes to radio, television and writes newspaper articles. He has co-written three popular science books and is working on his fourth.

He is the co-author with writer and broadcaster Leon Kreitzman of two popular science books on circadian rhythms:

  • Rhythms of Life: The Biological Clocks that Control the Daily Lives of Every Living Thing and,
  • Seasons of Life: The Biological Rhythms That Enable Living Things to Thrive and Survive.

He has also co-written a book titled Sleep: a Very Short Introduction. You can read more about Russell on his Wikipedia page  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_Foster.

You can follow Russell on Twitter @OxSCNi

Or contact him via email russell.foster@eye.ox.ac.uk