Matthews 100Professor of Clinical Neurosciences; HoD of Brain Sciences,

Head of the Division of Brain Sciences and Professor of Clinical Neuroscience

Paul Matthews, OBE, MD, DPhil, FRCP is Head of the new Division of Brain Sciences in the Department of Medicine of Imperial College, London.  His research is noted for innovative translational applications of clinical imaging for the neurosciences. 

He was the founding Director of two internationally leading research imaging centres, the University of Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB) and, later, of GlaxoSmithKline’s Clinical Imaging Centre (now a public “spin out” as Imanova, Ltd). He continues to hold a role in GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) as a Vice President in Medicines Discovery and Development and, therefore, is one of the small number of senior clinical academics in the UK with industry experience.

Professor Matthews’ research has addressed two related themes. He has extended applications of advanced imaging methods to answer a new range of clinical research questions. He pioneered neuroscience research applications of magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). He collaborated closely with Oxford colleagues (especially Professor S. Smith) in applications developments for advanced structural and functional brain imaging incorporated into the open access FSL software distributed by the FMRIB Centre, now one of the two most widely used image analysis software “toolboxes” worldwide. While at Imperial and GSK, his group (then including Professor T. Nichols, now at the University of Warwick) piloted approaches extending these methods for the first properly controlled, prospectively designed imaging genetics studies.  Over the last 5 years, his work has increasingly relied on advanced PET molecular imaging.

Professor Matthews’ GSK-based research group harnessed these and related approaches for innovative imaging experimental clinical neuroscience drug development.  They have been approaching the challenges of neuroscience drug development problems both as a neurophysiologists and neuropharmacologists, introducing and validating new PET radioligands and pioneering new approaches to PET assessments of tissue pharmacokinetics and to integrated PET/fMRI pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies, as well as more conventional outcomes.

Much of this work is being applied to address the challenge of neurodegeneration in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and enhancing intrinsic brain repair and plasticity for functional recovery. New collaborative work with Imanova Ltd. builds on studies of the genetics and pharmacology of the latest generation of PET microglial imaging agents to relate microglial activation and neurodegeneration in vivo for the first time.

Amongst many external commitments, Professor Matthews has served two terms on the MRC Neuroscience and Mental Health Board and remains active on several committees; is a member of the HEFCE REF Neuroscience Subcommittee for assessment of Neurosciences, Psychology and related areas; and is a member of the UK Biobank Steering Committee and Chair of their Imaging Enhancement Working Group, which is planning a programme for brain and body imaging of up to 100,000 participants in the Biobank longitudinal study. 

Professor Matthews was awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to neuroscience.