Skip to main content
NC3Rs | 20 Years: Pioneering Better Science
Skills and Knowledge Transfer grant

Sharing new non-invasive circadian phenotyping methods

Headshot of Stuart Peirson

At a glance

Award date
September 2020 - December 2022
Grant amount
Principal investigator
Professor Stuart Peirson
University of Oxford


  • Reduction
  • Refinement
Read the abstract
View the grant profile on GtR


Why did we fund this project?

This award aims to refine circadian rhythm studies by using non-invasive methods to measure sleep patterns and body temperature.

Circadian rhythms regulate virtually all aspects of behaviour and physiology in many plants, animals, fungi and certain bacterial species. A disrupted circadian rhythm is a hallmark of many disease, such as cancer and in neurodegenerative disorders. Activity levels and body temperatures can be analysed to monitor circadian rhythms, which typically requires invasive surgical procedures under general anaesthesia to implant electrodes. Professor Stuart Peirson has developed a new method of measuring sleep and body temperature using sensors placed above the animal’s home cage that can detect movement or heat signatures. These avoid the need for invasive surgeries in circadian rhythm studies.

Stuart will host a number of hands-on workshops in Oxford to train researchers from five different research groups in Berlin in the refined techniques. He will also develop online training to allow others to take up the methods. Analysis of circadian rhythms in this way generates large amounts of data, these will be hosted on a database to enable other researchers to access this data.



  1. Brown LA et al. (2020). Simultaneous Assessment of Circadian Rhythms and Sleep in Mice Using Passive Infrared Sensors: A User's Guide. Current Protocols in Mouse Biology 10(3):e81. doi: 10.1002/cpmo.81