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Anna Wirz-Justice is emeritus Professor and Research Fellow at the Centre for Chronobiology, Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel.
Born in Christchurch, NZ she received a PhD in Organic Chemistry from University College London. Anna initially worked on circadian rhythms in animals and the effects of psychiatric medications on neurotransmitter receptor and rest-activity rhythms. During a fellowship at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, she and Thomas Wehr, MD carried out the first sleep phase advance experiment in a bipolar patient. Anna introduced light therapy to Europe, followed up with more than 20 years of research on seasonal affective disorder and light therapy.
Anna is a former president of the Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms. A prestigious Anna-Monika-Prize with Thomas Wehr recognised their seminal work in the chronobiology of depressive illness. In 2002, she received the Scholar’s Prize of the City of Basel, awarded for outstanding scientific career achievement.
She has also worked with artists, architects and designers who are inspired by the complexities of neuroscience. Collaborations include Phillippe Rahm’s “Light Room” at the Swiss Pavillion in the 2002 Venice Biennale, and light installations by Andreas Horlitz using chronobiological images. Her work has inspired the incorporation of novel lighting regimens in architecture to improve sleep, mood and cognition in Alzheimer’s patients.
Anna is director of CET’s Chronotherapeutics Consultants, formed in 2004 to advise hospital psychiatrists on the implementation of light and wake therapies as adjuncts to drug treatment of major depression. Most recently, she lead a team including Francesco Benedetti and Michael Terman to the field’s first treatment manual for clinicians, Chronotherapeutics for Affective Disorders.