National Institute of Mental Health

Chief and Senior Investigator
Section on Light and Circadian Rhythms (SLCR)

Samer Hattar is a chronobiologist and a leader in the field of non-image forming photoreception. He is currently the Chief of the Section on Light and Circadian Rhythms at the National Institute of Mental Health, part of the National Institutes of Health. He was previously an associate professor in the Department of Neuroscience and the Department of Biology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. He is best known for his investigation into the role of melanopsin and intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGC) in the entrainment of circadian rhythms.

Samer Hattar was born in Amman, Jordan to a Jordanian father and a Lebanese mother. Raised in a Christian family, he planned on becoming a priest. He studied at Terra Sancta High School, a Catholic high school in Amman, from 1978-1988. He earned good grades in his classes and fell in love with biology when introduced to Mendel's pea plant experiments. This passion inspired him to pursue a career in science. He attended Yarmouk University in Irbid for his undergraduate studies, where he majored in Biology and minored in Chemistry. His high marks earned him the honor of meeting Hassan Bin Talal, the prince of Jordan. After graduating from Yarmouk in 1991, he completed a master's degree in biochemistry at the American University of Beirut in Beirut. He began his graduate studies in biochemistry in 1993 at the University of Houston where he studied circadian regulation of a transcription factor in aplysia. Hattar completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the Solomon Snyder Department of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he made discoveries on ipRGCs. In 2004, he established his laboratory in the Department of Biology at Johns Hopkins University. He is married to Rejji Kuruvilla, a neuroscientist also working at Johns Hopkins.

Keynote Speaker:

"Light, Health & Wellbeing"


Mariana Figueiro, PhD, Samer Hatter, PhD, and Robert Soler will share their research on light and health, moderated by Michael Barber with The Lighting Practice. Exploring in the latest technologies that are informing us of the physical and psychological impacts of lighting.  This research will shed some light as to what designers should utilize in their profession.