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Peter Oliver

Visiting Associate Professor of Neuroscience


I completed a PhD at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research in 1999 where I studied the control of retroviral expression in the mouse genome. I then joined Professor Kay Davies' group in the MRC Functional Genomics Unit, Oxford, where I focused on studying gene function in the brain using mouse models. This included models of neurodegeneration as well as human behavioural disorders, such as schizophrenia. In February 2013 I was awarded a European Research Council Starting (Consolidator) Grant and have established my own independent group in the Department to study new mechanisms that protect against oxidative stress in neurons. I also studied environmental factors, including sleep and circadian rhythms, in psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disease. I previoisly held a Junior Research Fellowship at Lady Margaret Hall.

In 2018 I was awarded an MRC Programme Grant to continue my work on neurodegenerative and neurological disease using mouse genetics at MRC Harwell. I am currently an editor of The Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC).


Since 2011 I have been exploring new ways to present sleep and circadian rhythm research to the public. I began by speaking at Cafe Scientifique groups around Oxfordshire and in the city, which lead to further invites to talk at similar events around the country. I am also a keen musician, and in 2013 I was invited to lecture at the Oxford May Music Festival (Hollywell Music Rooms) where I used live drums to help illustrate some of the concepts involved. More recently I have been involved in two quite different public science events, Science Slam (Old Fire Station, Oxford October 2013) and Bright Club (Jericho Tavern, Oxford, March 2014) – both sell-outs - where a short entertaining set is required from several scientists in one night.

In addition, I was selected as one of the scientists from over a hundred candidates to work with professional animators on new visual art pieces for the public. The project, entitled ‘Silent Signal’ has involved an R&D process and was awarded a Large Arts Award by The Wellcome Trust. I have been working with award-winning animator Ellie Land on a piece named ‘Sleepless’ that is inspired by the concepts of synchrony and desynchrony. The film was completed in 2016 and is currently being shown around the UK and Europe as part of art installations and animation festivals.

More info on Silent Signal.