Shona Wood, PhD

November 03, 2020

Shona Wood's early career focused on the ageing brain and gave me a strong grounding in RNAseq and bioinformatics. She moved to the centre for biological timing at Manchester University as a post-doctoral research associate, and was able to apply these skills in studies focused on brain and pituitary mechanisms involved in seasonal time-keeping. Her major contributions to this field have been a detailed analysis of the signaling network connecting light to seasonal endocrine changes (i.e. photoperiodism), focusing on the key role of the transcriptional coactivator EYA3. Her work on this topic provides the only cell population level analysis of EYA3 protein expression, presenting the concept of binary switching in pituitary endocrine cell state as a key mechanism in photoperiodic timing which has an epigenetic and circadian clock basis. These studies combine molecular endocrinology, state of the art ‘omics and in vivo physiology to gain insight into the fundamental mechanisms of seasonal time-keeping. This period cemented her interest in timer mechanisms and established her research approach of combining modern molecular approaches with classical physiological models to gain mechanistic insight. Her success in Manchester enabled her to win a tenure track fellowship in the Department of Arctic and Marine Biology in Tromsø, where she continue working on epigenetics and seasonal timer mechanisms. Additionally this fellowship has enabled her to begin developing a distinctive avenue focused specifically on hibernation regulation, and this is rapidly becoming her major focus. 

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