Brain Sciences

The NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) aims to improve our understanding of the role of inflammatory mechanisms in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, and stroke. Through this work, our team of world-class scientists is discovering disease mechanisms and risk factors that underpin new diagnostics and therapies for these conditions. Imperial College London provides rich engineering and computing resources alongside the BRC’s genomics, biobanking, informatics and imaging platforms, and its clinical research facility, providing a world-class multidisciplinary environment. This enables us to carry out early phase clinical trials, building on our successes in studies of inflammatory neurodegenerative mechanisms, and the benefits from anti-inflammatory treatment after stroke. We are working on five main initiatives.

In Silico Drug Discovery

We are using a pioneering computational approach based on ‘causal reasoning’ to look in detail at the genetics involved in neurodegeneration. Success in this area has the potential to slow the progression of a number of degenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease, through the use of therapies that restore healthy gene expression.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Our cutting edge PET and MRI brain imaging studies provide evidence of the mechanisms that lead to dementia, months or years after a person suffers a traumatic brain injury. We are applying this knowledge to provide early prognosis and tools to monitor brain health and support cognitive rehabilitation. A program to identify and test repurposed drugs that may reduce the incidence or severity of dementia following brain injury is ongoing.

Dementia

We are undertaking the first comprehensive evaluation of early pathological changes in people with Alzheimer’s disease and in those with strong clinical or lifestyle risk factors for the disease. PET scanning to identifies new markers of disease that can be visualized and complemented by MRI biomarker studies to form a new system for identifying early Alzheimer’s disease.

Stroke

We have made major progress in the use of anti-inflammatory treatment for stroke, and this work continues. We are now evaluating repurposed anti-inflammatory medications – in particular, natalizumab, a monoclonal antibody treatment used in multiple sclerosis. We are also testing, directly in humans, how initial inflammatory responses drive further brain damage in stroke.
In neurorehabilitation, we are developing remote sensors and therapeutic robotics and stimulation for stroke patients. Working with patients, our low cost devices for remote movement and balance monitoring, cognitive testing, and measurement of sleep quality and sustained attention are entering early clinical trials to support stroke recovery.

Multiple Sclerosis

Our main aim is to address the challenge of progressive multiple sclerosis, which is only delayed or marginally modified by current treatments. Our pre-clinical work on molecular strategies to modulate auto-immune damage is moving into humans for the first time. With this complete, we will be screening compound libraries for new drug repurposing and discovery of molecules with enhanced properties that could be therapeutic in progressive multiple sclerosis.

We host the Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Tissue Bank and associated molecular pathology programmes. We are also a lead centre for the Dementias Platform UK Imaging Network. We have collaborations with the Imperial College London Data Science Institute, UK Biobank, Human Connectome Project, and UCLH, as well as a number of pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, and individual Imperial College London engineers and physical scientists.

Key Individuals
  • Professor Paul Matthews
    Professor Paul Matthews
    Theme Lead, Brain Sciences
  • Dr Aldo Faisal
    Dr Aldo Faisal
    Senior Lecturer in Neurotechnology
  • Dr Barry Seemungal
    Dr Barry Seemungal
    Consultant Neurologist
  • Dr Claudia Clopath
    Dr Claudia Clopath
    Lecturer
  • Dr David Owen
    Dr David Owen
    Clinical Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacology
  • Dr Enrico Petretto
    Dr Enrico Petretto
    Senior Lecturer
  • Dr Kevin O'Neill
    Dr Kevin O'Neill
    Consultant Neurosurgeon
  • Dr Michael Johnson
    Dr Michael Johnson
    Reader in Genomic Medicine (Clinical)
  • Dr Paolo Muraro
    Dr Paolo Muraro
    Clinical Reader in Neuroimmunology
  • Dr Paresh Malhotra
    Dr Paresh Malhotra
    Clinical Senior Lecturer / Consultant Neurologist
  • Dr Paul Bentley
    Dr Paul Bentley
    Senior Clinical Research Fellow & Consultant Neurologist
  • Dr Paul Edison
    Dr Paul Edison
    Clinical Senior Lecturer
  • Dr Paul Ramchandani
    Dr Paul Ramchandani
    Reader in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Dr Richard Nicholas
    Dr Richard Nicholas
    Consultant Neurologist
  • Dr Richard Perry
    Dr Richard Perry
    Consultant neurologist
  • Professor Anne Lingford-Hughes
    Professor Anne Lingford-Hughes
    Chair in Addiction Biology
  • Professor David Brooks
    Professor David Brooks
    Hartnett Professor of Neurology
  • Professor David Dexter
    Professor David Dexter
    Professor of Neuropharmacology
  • Professor David Nutt
    Professor David Nutt
    Edmond J Safra Chair in Neuropsychopharmacology
  • Professor David Sharp
    Professor David Sharp
    Professor of Neurology
  • Professor Denis Azzopardi
    Professor Denis Azzopardi
    Visiting Researcher
  • Professor Etienne Burdet
    Professor Etienne Burdet
    Professor of Human Robotics
  • Professor Paola Piccini
    Professor Paola Piccini
    Professor of Neurology
  • Professor Richard Festenstein
    Professor Richard Festenstein
    Clinical Professor of Molecular Medicine
  • Professor Richard Reynolds
    Professor Richard Reynolds
    Professor of Cellular Neurobiology
  • Professor Roger Gunn
    Professor Roger Gunn
    Professor of Molecular Neuroimaging
  • Professor Roland Veltkamp
    Professor Roland Veltkamp
    Professor of Neurology/Chair of Stroke Medicine/Consultant
  • Professor Simone Di Giovanni
    Professor Simone Di Giovanni
    Chair in Restorative Neuroscience
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