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Close-up photo of a human eye © @whitfieldjordan

We're pleased to announce that Manuel Spitschan has been Selected to receive a Project to lead a new network of international early-career scientists from the UK, Netherlands, USA, Australia and Singapore to work on the effects of light on human health and well-being.

The project, from the Constructive Advanced Thinking (CAT) initiative, will enable Manuel to make multiple visits to a set of Institutes of Advanced Study cross Europe as part of the project, "Light as a key predictor of human health and well-being: Robust evidence and translation to public health." His team includes Laura Kervezee (Leiden University), Renske Lok (Stanford University), Ray Najjar (Duke-NUS Medical School) and Elise McGlashan (Monash University).  

Manuel said, “I’m looking forward to bringing the health and well-being effects of light and light exposure to another level.”

The project: Light as a key predictor of human health and well-being: Robust evidence and translation to public health

Light exposure is a key driver for synchronising rhythms in our bodies and brains with the external 24-hour light-dark cycle. In turn, light exposure at the wrong biological time of day can disrupt our inner clock and lead to sleep loss, which has knock-on effects on our physical and mental health and well-being. Additionally, light is important for normal development of the eye, with low levels of light exposure being associated with myopia. With increasing knowledge from basic laboratory findings on the wide-reaching effects of light exposure on human health and well-being, it is time to apply this knowledge to the real world, guiding policymakers and other stakeholders.

In this interdisciplinary NETIAS CAT project, Manuel and his team will come together to address these topics, with a view to:

  1. developing a unified scientific framework for understanding effects of light exposure on human health and well-being;
  2. developing strategies for making the existing and future scientific evidence base as robust as possible; and
  3. developing strategies to communicate the complex scientific knowledge to different audiences.

About CAT

CAT was incubated within NetIAS in 2019 and is supported by 11 European Institutes for Advanced (IAS) Study. The initiative provides travel funds for an international and interdisciplinary teams of three to five early career researchers, possibly including a stakeholder, in order to advance constructive thinking and stimulate discussion.

The overall aim of the CAT initiative is to foster networks of excellent early career researchers committed to developing new ideas in order to understand and tackle current or emerging societal challenges. Although it has a strong focus on the societal relevance of the projects, it is entirely blue-sky, bottom-up and non-thematic.

In addition, CAT encourages a collaboration with stakeholders outside academia (industry, policymakers, NGOs, etc.) who are willing to support or engage in innovative research initiatives. The coordinating institute will be the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and there will be further visits to the Montpellier Advanced Knowledge Institute on Transitions (Montpellier) and the Zukunftskolleg (Konstanz).

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