Dr. Shona Wood

Current positions

Oct. 2017-to date Forsker, Faculty of Biosciences, fisheries & economics (BFE), UiT – The Arctic University of Norway

Sept. 2017- to date Honorary lecturer, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, School of Medical Sciences, University of Manchester, UK


Shona has recently joined the research group through the Tromsø Forskningsstiftelse (TFS) tenure track research fellowship scheme. She graduated with an Honours degree in Zoology from the University of Wales, Bangor, UK, and then completed a PhD at the University of Liverpool, UK, in Genomics (2010). She then spent 3 years exploring the relationship between diet and the rate of brain ageing, and demonstrated that nutrition affects the ageing trajectory through changes to the transcriptome and epigenome (University of Liverpool). Her second post-doc was at the University of Manchester, UK, working with Andrew Loudon on the neuroendocrine circuits in the pituitary regulating seasonal timekeeping, and, the role of epigenetics in seasonal timing (2013-2017). This work identified a cellular binary switching mechanism, within the pituitary (pars tuberalis), that defined the phase of the long-term (circannual cycle) in sheep. In summer 2017 she spent time in the field, working with Arctic ground squirrels (AGS) in Alaska. This was part of a long-term monitoring programme and a NSF funded grant (awarded to Cory Williams & Loren Buck) to study the robust circannual rhythms of reproduction and hibernation in AGS.

Research interests

Accurate timing and anticipation of seasonal changes is required to initiate physiological adaptations over the course of the year such as hibernation, changes in metabolism, fattening and reproductive activity. To achieve this, organisms have evolved complex seasonal timekeeping systems that rely on day length sensing (photoperiodism), coupled to innate long-term timers ("circannual clock"). The fundamental biological processes giving rise circannual rhythms are not known for any organism. This is a highly integrative topic of wide relevance, integrating multiple levels of understanding from genome to ecosystem. Within this area, my specific interests are in the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in seasonal timekeeping processes, and in particular in the concept that there is a strong developmental / epigenetic component in the generation of cyclical life-histories.

Selected papers

Please find a selection of 5 out of 20 papers, a full list is available on Google scholar.

Wood, S.H & Loudon, A.S.I., The pars tuberalis: the site of the circannual clock in mammals? General & comparative. Endocrinol. xxx (2017) xxx-xxx.

Wood, S.H., Christian, H.C., Miedzinska, K., Saer, B.R.C., Johnson, M., Paton, B., Yu, L., McNeilly, J., Davis, J.R.E., McNeilly, A.S., Burt, D.W., & Loudon A.S.I., Binary switching of calendar cells in the pituitary defines the phase of the circannual cycle in mammals. Curr. Biol. (2015). doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.09.014

Wood, S.H & Loudon, A.S.I., Clocks for all seasons: unwinding the roles and mechanisms of circadian and interval timers in the hypothalamus and pituitary. J. Endocrinol. 222, R39–59 (2014).

Wood, S.H., van Dam, S., Craig, T., Tacutu, R., O’Toole, A., Merry, B.J., de Magalhães, J.P., Transcriptome analysis in calorie-restricted rats implicates epigenetic and post-translational mechanisms in neuroprotection and aging. Genome Biol. 16, 285 (2015).

Wood, S. H., Craig, T., Li, Y., Merry, B. & de Magalhães, J. P. Whole transcriptome sequencing of the aging rat brain reveals dynamic RNA changes in the dark matter of the genome. Age (Dordr). 35, 763–76 (2013).