Jim established and led one of the UK's premier sleep centres - the Loughborough Sleep Research Centre - from 1980 until his retirement. For 15 years (1991-2006), he was the (Founding) Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Sleep Research, the publication for the European Sleep Research Society providing the foundation for the success of the journal today. His substantial achievements in sleep and circadian science were recognised through Fellowships of the Royal Society of Medicine, the British Psychological Society, and the Royal Society of Biology, alongside the award of Doctor of Science (DSc) by the University of London.
Jim was a pioneer in sleep and circadian science, recognised by all as one of the ‘giants’ of sleep research. Among his many contributions to the field, his creative exploration into ‘why we sleep’ uncovered the benefit of sleep to the brain – particularly the prefrontal cortex - paving the way for a new era in sleep and cognitive science. In 1995, his seminal article in the British Medical Journal highlighted the causes and characteristics of fall-asleep motor vehicle crashes, preceding two decades of ground-breaking research targeting driver sleepiness. His evidence-based recommendations for managing driver sleepiness transformed road safety in the UK and worldwide, and for this, he was a worthy co-recipient of the 2007 Queen's Anniversary Prize awarded for excellence, innovation and public benefit for ‘reducing road traffic deaths; vehicle, road and driver safety research’.
Jim was once referred to as the “experts’ expert” and he was. His knowledge of sleep knew no boundaries as evidenced through more than 200 academic publications, popular science writings, and authored books including ‘Why we sleep’, ‘Sleeplessness’, and ‘Sleepfaring’. He thrived on academic debate and offered a unique perspective to many scientific arguments. In addition to his brilliance, Jim will be remembered for his kindness, generosity, humility, and humour. He shared his knowledge willingly, giving so much of his time and wisdom to the advancement of sleep research but more importantly to the people working within it. I am incredibly fortunate to be one of those people, and like many others, will remain forever thankful for his knowledge and inspiration, his enduring guidance and support, and above all his friendship.
Jim and his exceptional mind will be sorely missed, but his legacy will remain.
This obituary was provided by Clare Anderson, Professor of Sleep and Circadian Science at the Centre for Human Brain Health, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, UK. She is a Former PhD Student/Post Doc of Jim Horne (1999-2005), collaborator and friend.
Jim's funeral will take place on Tuesday 21 November at 2.45pm at the Loughborough Crematorium.