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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge
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    Dr Timothy Hearn

    01223 333928
    Murray Edwards College
    Huntingdon Road
    CB3 0DF

    Fellow in Genetics; Director of Studies; University Assistant Professor



    Murray Edwards is an incredibly special place, unlike anywhere I’ve previously been a part of, that brings together exceedingly talented students and allows them to grow together.

    Degrees & Honours

    • 2011 BSc Hons (B’ham)
    • 2016 PhD (Cantab)
    • 2017 Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

    Awards & Prizes

    • 2016 University of Cambridge HE Woodmann prize for best PhD thesis in plant science
    • 2011 University of Birmingham Farmer prize for highest mark in Biological sciences
    • 2011 Society of Biology award for highest degree in Biosciences

    Research Interests

    Dr Hearn runs the Comparative Chronomics research group.  We discover how circadian clocks work in different species by taking a comparative biology approach. The Comparative Chronomics group is based in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of Cambridge and collaborates with colleagues across multiple departments.

    Chronomics is the study of time across the life span of an organism. We are interested in daily and seasonal time keeping mechanisms – circadian and photoperiodic oscillators. We utilise genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics to make comparisons between systems.

    We are especially interested in the usage of chronobiology in genomic medicine; for which we have coined the term “Chronomic Medicine”. Our goal is to investigate how chronobiology impacts human health and disease.

    We are using the tools of genomic medicine to cement the idea of Chronomic Medicine – delivering mechanistic basis for the role of the circadian clock in the inheritance and phenotypes of rare disease and answering the community wide call to explore all potential aspects of circadian medicine.

    We take several Masters students from the Cambridge Genomic Medicine Programme MPhil and MSt cohorts each year. Please get in touch to discuss a potential project. Dr Hearn encourages approaches from any clinicians who want to partner with us.


    Dr Tim Hearn is an early career researcher who is an expert in both the genetics and physiology of circadian clocks. Dr Hearn is a comparative biologist, having studied circadian mechanism in humans, zebrafish and plants. He is recognised as an international authority on regulation of circadian clocks (Hearn and Webb 2020).

    Dr Hearn studied for a BSc in Biological Sciences at the University of Birmingham, completing his undergraduate research project with Dr Juliet Coates, and was awarded the Farmer and Society of Biology Prizes for the highest degree in Biosciences. He subsequently moved to Cambridge and joined Professor Alex Webb's laboratory as a PhD student, funded by an industrial CASE studentship in partnership with Bayer Cropscience (now BASF), to study the regulation of the circadian clock in plants. He was awarded the 2016 HE Woodmann prize for the best PhD thesis in plant science. He continued this work as a post-doctoral research associate, before moving to study the circadian clock in zebrafish with Prof David Whitmore. Dr Hearn now studies the circadian clock in humans and is an award nominated educator in the Department of Medical Genetics, taking a leading role in the Cambridge Genomic Medicine Programme (CGMP). His teaching focusses on bioinformatics and analysis of next generation sequencing data.


    Fewings E, Ziemer M, Hörtnagel K, Reicherter K, Larionov A, Redman J, Goldgraben MA, Pepler A, Hearn T, Firth H, Ha T, Schaller J, Adams DJ, Rytina E, van Steensel M, Tischkowitz M. (2019) Malta (MYH9 Associated Elastin Aggregation) Syndrome: Germline Variants in MYH9 Cause Rare Sweat Duct Proliferations and Irregular Elastin Aggregations. Journal Investigative Dermatology. S0022-202X(19)31487-3.

    Mombaerts L*, Carignano A*, Robertson FC*, Hearn TJ*, Junyang J, Hayden D, Rutterford Z, Hotta CT, Hubbard KE, Maria MRC, Yuan Y, Hannah MA, Goncalves J, Webb AAR. (2019) Dynamical differential expression (DyDE) reveals the period control mechanisms of the Arabidopsis circadian oscillator. PLoS Comput Biol. 15(1):e1006674.

    Hearn TJ, Marti Ruiz MC, Abdul-Awal SM, Wimalasekera R, Stanton CR, Haydon MJ, Theodoulou FL, Hannah MA, Webb AAR. 2018. BIG Regulates Dynamic Adjustment of Circadian Period in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Physiol. 178(1):358-371. doi: 10.1104/pp.18.00571.

    Ohara T, Hearn TJ, Webb AAR, Satake A. 2018. Gene regulatory network models in response to sugars in the plant circadian system. J Theor Biol. 17;457:137-151. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2018.08.020

    Martí Ruiz MC, Hubbard KE, Gardner MJ, Jung HJ, Aubry S, Hotta CT, Mohd-Noh NI, Robertson FC, Hearn TJ, Tsai YC, Dodd AN, Hannah M, Carré IA, Davies JM, Braam J, Webb AAR. 2018. Circadian oscillations of cytosolic free calcium regulate the Arabidopsis circadian clock. Nat Plants. 4(9):690-698. doi: 10.1038/s41477-018-0224-8.

    Frank A*, Matiolli CC*, Viana AJC*, Hearn TJ*, Kusakina J, Belbin FE, Wells Newman D, Yochikawa A, Cano-Ramirez DL, Chembath A, Cragg-Barber K, Haydon MJ, Hotta CT, Vincentz M, Webb AAR, Dodd AN. 2018. Circadian Entrainment in Arabidopsis by the Sugar-Responsive Transcription Factor bZIP63. Curr Biol. 28(16):2597-2606.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.05.092

    Seki M, Ohara T, Hearn TJ, Frank A, da Silva VCH, Caldana C, Webb AAR, Satake A. (2017). Adjustment of the Arabidopsis circadian oscillator by sugar signalling dictates the regulation of starch metabolism. Scientific Reports. 7:8305.

    Box MS, Domijan M, Huang BE, Jaeger KE, Khattak AK, Sedivy EL, Jones DM, Hearn TJ, Webb, AAR, Grant, A, Locke JCW and Wigge, PA. (2015). Natural variation in ELF3 controls thermoresponsive growth in Arabidopsis. Current Biology. 19. 194-9.

    Hearn TJ and Webb AAR (2014). Measuring circadian oscillations of cytosolic-free calcium in Arabidopsis thaliana. Methods in Molecular Biology. 1158. 215-26.

    Hearn TJ (2014) Biology in the fourth dimension. The Letter. Berforts information press. 93. 74-76.

    Haydon MJ, Hearn TJ, Bell LJ, Hannah MA and Webb AAR (2013) Metabolic regulation of circadian clocks. Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology. 24 (5).414-21.

    Saidi Y, Hearn TJ and Coates (2012) Function and evolution of ‘green’ GSK3/Shaggy-like kinases. Trends in Plant Science. Cell Press. 17 (1). 39-46.

    *indicates equal contribution