Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience in University College London
Janette Atkinson is a world leader in human visual brain development. She established a pioneering laboratory for infant vision, the Visual Development Unit in Cambridge University, with her first developmental study, published in Nature, measuring vision in her first child, Fleur, in the first 3 months of life.
The strength of her research is its interdisciplinarity, combining ideas and techniques from visual neuroscience, developmental psychology, paediatric ophthalmology, neurology and education, devising one of the first neurobiological models of visual brain development in the first year of life. Using her new child-friendly tests, visual problems (both in the eyes and brain) can be identified and treated at a very early age in normally developing children, children born very prematurely, and children with developmental disorders such as cerebral palsy, dyslexia, Williams syndrome, Down's Syndrome and autism.
Janette has many collaborators from all over the world. She led large infant screening programs across 6 European countries. Her technique, videorefraction (a child-friendly measure of long or short- sight) was used to show that early identification of these problems and treatment with spectacles in infancy, could reduce common problems of strabismus (cross eyes) and amblyopia (poor vision in one eye).
In recognition of Janette's outstanding contribution to visual science she has been elected a Fellow of the British Academy, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and the Academia Europaea, being awarded the Kurt Koffka Medal (Gießen University) and 2016 Davida Teller Award of the Vision Sciences Society.
Janette is a pioneer for women's scientific careers through her work on the national committee of Athena SWAN and UCL's Athena SWAN Ambassador. She was Vice Dean of UCL's Life Sciences Faculty and UCL's International Pro-Provost for North America. She is a role model for women, combining a scientific career with motherhood for 4 children and 5 grandchildren.
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