This month Professor Angela Clow
Angela Clow is a Professor of Psychophysiology based in the Department of Psychology at the University of Westminster. Angela is trained in neuroscience and psychology and likes to work at the interface of these disciplines. For her PhD (Institute of Psychiatry, London) she explored the mechanism of action of antipsychotic drugs, during her post-doctoral studies (Royal Postgraduate Medical School, London) she developed an interest in the biochemistry of stress. In 1989 she joined the University of Westminster where she became a founder member of the interdisciplinary Psychophysiology and Stress Research Group.
Her current research investigates the physiological pathways by which stress and well-being can affect health and performance. In particular she studies daily patterns of cortisol secretion, a hormone important in the regulation of day-night cycles as well as stress responding. She is particularly interested in the ways exercise, light and season can affect health and performance. Her work has been funded by the Wellcome Trust, ESRC, NIHR, the Bial Foundation, the British Academy and the Nuffield Trust. She has published over 130 peer-reviewed papers, 5 books, and 31 book chapters or reviews. Angela is a National Teaching Fellow and a frequent public speaker.
Interview with Angela:
1. Can you tell us about the major themes in your research program?
I am very interested in using the cortisol awakening response (CAR) as an index of circadian function in heath and disease.
2. If you had to pick 1 publication in the past 5 years as the "best of your best", what would it be and why?
I am particularly proud of a small paper we published this year: Clow A, Law R, Evans P, Vallence A-M, Hodyl NA, Goldsworthy MR, Rothwell JC, Ridding MC. Day differences in the cortisol awakening response predict day differences in synaptic plasticity in the brain. Stress 17, 219–223 (2014). This paper is the first to investigate the role of the CAR using transcranial magnetic stimulation. The finding of a link with brain plasticity is the first direct evidence linking the CAR with brain function.
3. How did you get interested in using saliva in your research?
I used to study neuropharmacology in rodent brains (Institute of Psychiatry, London). When I moved to the University of Westminster in 1989 that was no longer possible so I had to be more imaginative – saliva was the answer!
4. Which salivary analytes are you working with?
We mostly study the diurnal pattern of cortisol secretion but have also measured DHEA and melatonin in saliva samples.
5. How has working with saliva changed the direction of your research plans?
Yes! Psychophysiology is very broad in its relevance. We have been able to study a very diverse range of research questions using the same methodology (i.e. determination of salivary cortisol secretion).
6. What analyte is not measured in saliva now that you would hope could be measured in the future?
Oxytocin – this is a potentially important moderator of the effects of stress on patterns of cortisol secretion.
7. What advice would give young investigators who might be considering working with saliva in their research?
This is a very exciting area of research but take very great care over your methodology – timing is everything.
8. Tell us something about you (a hobby or special interest) that we would be surprised to know?
I like gardening and bird watching!
View Angela's Citations on Google Scholar
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