Johanna H. Meijer - Biography#

Johanna H. Meijer is a Professor and Section head of Neurophysiology at the department of Cell and Chemical Biology, Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). Meijer earned her PhD in the department of physiology at Leiden University with work from several collaborations across the Netherlands, the United Kingdom (Nottingham University), and Canada (Dalhousie University). Following a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, Meijer set up her research group at the LUMC where she investigates the effects of 24-hour rhythms on bodily functions.

Meijer has made seminal discoveries on the detrimental effects of the modern 24-hour society (artificial light at night, irregular lifestyles, and shift work) on the biological clock of not only humans but also an array of diurnal and nocturnal animals. Using a multidisciplinary approach, Meijer has shown that disruption of the biological clock increases susceptibility to both mental and physical illness and threatening biodiversity on a global scale. Her mission is to develop new strategies to protect biodiversity by minimising the negative effects of light pollution on biological clocks in nature. She is the figurehead of an NWA (€10M) consortium focusing on developing strategies to restore and maintain clock function in society and healthcare including improved patient care by optimizing the timing of treatment, strengthening the light-dark cycle in hospitals, and developing clock-enhancing tools.

Meijer is also exceptionally dedicated to societal outreach in her research and beyond. In addition to regularly engaging the public through interviews and lectures, during the pandemic crisis, she repurposed the use of surgical wrapping ((a material available in hospitals nearly word-wide) for the fabrication of respirator masks. She mobilized clinicians and scientists alike from around the world to translate the publication into 15 languages (85% of spoken languages), making the knowledge freely obtainable online ( Since 2020, she is also “Ambassador of the Night” an initiative of the Dutch Nature and Environment Federation to inform policy advisors and municipalities on the negative effects of light pollution on the health of humans and animals and reduce nighttime light pollution, being an unprecedented threat for insects and nocturnal animals.

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