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Double honour for Imperial researcher

Professor Russell Foster who heads the department of integrative and molecular neuroscience at Imperial College School of Medicine, has been awarded the Zoological Societys Scientific Medal (UK) and is the first European to receive the Cogan Award of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (USA).
Professor Russell Foster
Professor Russell Foster, awarded the Zoological Societys Scientific Medal (UK) and the Cogan Award of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (USA), pictured at work in his office in Charing Cross Hospital
The Cogan award recognises, important and worthwhile contributions to research in ophthalmology or visual science, as well as evidence of substantial promise in future research.

The professor explained: "They recognised our work on the role of photoreceptor mechanisms in the regulation of circadian rhythms.

"For the majority of organisms, internal time is set by changes in the quality of light at dawn and dusk. We have shown that novel photoreceptors within the inner part of the retina mediate these effects of light on the clock.

"This was completely unexpected. Prior to our studies, all light detection within the eye was assumed to be done by rod and cone photoreceptors in the outer retina."

Ten years ago, Professor Fosters work met with considerable resistance. "I am delighted that all the effort in the lab has now been recognised. We have discovered a new light detecting system in the eye, and are excited by the implications that this discovery will have on both basic and clinical neuroscience."

Russell Foster, formerly of the department of biology, has recently been appointed professor and established his own department of integrative and molecular neuroscience within the neuroscience and psychological medicine division based at Charing Cross.

"Our aim is to promote the study of the nervous system by combining established approaches with the new and emerging technologies of functional genomics," he added. "The relative ease with which researchers can now generate gene sequences is greatly enhancing our understanding of all biological processes.

"However, a gene sequence alone can tell us little. Genomic information must be placed into a functional context if there is to be any real understanding of its role.

"In addition to molecular biologists, we hope to attract individuals with a broad range of expertise in the neurosciences, ranging from anatomists, electrophysiologists, and ethologists. This integrative approach encourages collaborations, and one of the aims of the new department is to promote collaborative research with other researchers across the College."

*** © Imperial College 2000. This article originally appeared in IC Reporter, the staff newspaper of Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. Please contact the editor Tanya Reed(Email:, Telephone: +44 20 7594 6697) for permission to re-use any or all parts of this article. ***