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Susan Greenfield

Neuroscientist, Writer, Broadcaster, Entrepreneur; former Professor of Pharmacology, Oxford

Susan Adele Greenfield is a British scientist, writer, broadcaster, and member of the House of Lords. Greenfield, whose specialty is the physiology of the brain, has worked to research and bring attention to Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Greenfield is Professor of Synaptic Pharmacology at Lincoln College, Oxford. On 1 February 2006, she was installed as Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Until 8 January 2010, she was director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain.

Greenfield was the first member of her family to go on to university, at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. Greenfield completed her Doctor of Philosophy degree under the supervision of Anthony David Smith on the Origins of acetylcholinesterase in cerebrospinal fluid.

Greenfield’s research is focused on brain physiology, particularly the etiology of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, but she is best known as a popularizer of science. Greenfield has written several popular-science books about the brain and consciousness, and regularly gives public lectures, and appears on radio and television.

Greenfield was invited to be the first woman to give the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture, then sponsored by the BBC. Her lecture was titled “Journey to the Centre of the Brain”. She was appointed Director of the Royal Institution for twelve years. Greenfield was Adelaide’s Thinker in Residence for 2004 and 2005. From 1995 to 1999, she gave public lectures as Gresham Professor of Physic.

Greenfield created three research and biotechnology companies: Synaptica, BrainBoost, and Neurodiagnostics, which research neuronal diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. She is a Patron of Dignity in Dying and a founder and trustee of the charity Science for Humanity, a network of scientists, researchers and technologists that collaborates with non-profits to create practical solutions to the everyday problems of developing communities.

Greenfield has expressed concerns that modern technology, and in particular social networking sites, may have a negative impact on child development. Greenfield has published extensively in the research literature on the links between addictive behavior, and brain chemistry and structure. She has also investigated the brain mechanisms underlying ADHD, and the impact of environmental enrichment.

As well as having 30 honorary degrees, Greenfield has received a number of awards including the Royal Society’s Michael Faraday Prize. She has been elected to an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians and The Science Museum. In January 2000, Greenfield received the CBE for her contribution to the public understanding of science. Later that year, she was named Woman of the Year by The Observer. In 2006 she was made an honorary fellow of the British Science Association and was the Honorary Australian of the Year. More recently in 2010, Greenfield was awarded another Australian honour: the Australian Society for Medical Research Medal. She also received The British Inspiration award for Science and Technology. In 2003, she was appointed a Chevalier Légion d’Honneur by the French Government, and in June 2001, she was created a Life Peer, as Baroness Greenfield, of Ot Moor in the County of Oxfordshire.

Topic Series


Tomorrow's People: How 21st-Century Technology Is Changing the Way We Think and Feel

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You and Me: The Neuroscience of Identity

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The Private Life of the Brain: Emotions, Consciousness, and the Secret of the Self

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Journey to the Centers of the Mind: Toward a Science of Consciousness

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The Human Brain (Science Masters Series)

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