Dr Michael Hastings, group leader in LMB’s Neurobiology Division, has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Michael is distinguished for his highly influential contributions to our understanding of biological clocks through the study of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus in the brain. He was instrumental in unravelling the controls on seasonal cycles of physiology and behaviour. He then worked at the molecular and cellular level to develop in mammals a new model of the clock that improved our existing knowledge.
Disruption of our circadian rhythm through shift work, old age and neurological disease is a significant and growing cause of chronic illness.Our principal body clock lies in the brain, but the same clock timing mechanism is also present in other major organs including the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. The Hastings group are now investigating how the body clock genes are able to assemble a 24 hour time-keeper and how the different timers together co-ordinate our highly complex metabolic and physiological rhythms.
Michael said, “Naturally, I’m delighted, overwhelmed and not a little humbled by my election as a Fellow of the Royal Society. I was certainly fortunate to be in the relatively new field of circadian clocks that really took off with the new tools provided by molecular neurobiology. One of the challenges now is to translate this new biological knowledge about clocks into something helpful for people’s physical and mental health.”
The Royal Society seeks to promote excellence in science through its Fellowship and Foreign membership. Each year, the Royal Society elects 44 distinguished scientists who have made substantial contributions to the improvement of knowledge in the sciences. This year’s electees also include 4 ex-students of LMB: Andrea Brand, Angus Lamond, Peter Rigby and Alan Smith.