Colin Blakemore

Sir Colin Blakemore

Colin Blakemore is a neuroscientist who has contributed to our understanding of vision, development of the brain, and pathogenesis in an inherited neurodegenerative disorder, Huntington’s disease. Colin was one of the first to demonstrate the importance of neural ‘plasticity’ — the capacity of brain cells to reorganise themselves in response to the environment, after birth and even in adulthood.

By depriving one eye of sight in immature mammals, and then restoring vision to the deprived eye, Colin showed how nerve impulses from the eyes maintain connections into the brain. He went on to unravel genetic mechanisms that enable nerve cells to regulate their own inputs. His work using brain imaging emphasised the role of plasticity later in life: he showed that the sense of touch takes over formerly visual parts of the cortex in people who have been blind since infancy.

Colin is well known for his passionate belief in the importance of public engagement, particularly around the use of animals in research. He has held several influential positions, including head of the Medical Research Council, and received a knighthood in 2014 for services to scientific research, policy and outreach.

Professional positions

  • Director, Centre for the Study of the Senses, School of Advanced Study, University of London
  • Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience, University of Oxford
  • President, Motor Neurone Disease Association
  • Trustee of the Board, The Pilgrim Trust
  • President, World Cultural Council
  • Former Chief Executive, Medical Research Council (MRC)