Publish date: 08 December 2022

UCLH consultant neurologist Sarah Tabrizi has been awarded the Medical Research Council (MRC) Millennium Medal for 2022.

Professor Tabrizi, a British-Iranian neuroscientist who also holds senior roles at UCL and the UK Dementia Research Institute, will be presented with the MRC’s prestigious personal prize in a ceremony next year.

The award is given to outstanding researchers who make a major contribution to MRC’s mission to improve human health through world-class medical research.

Professor Tabrizi has been recognised for her pioneering work to advance the understanding and translation of therapies for neurodegeneration. She has been described by the MRC as “a true clinician-scientist with a bench-to-bedside research programme which spans understanding of cellular mechanisms of neurodegeneration to first-in-human clinical trials testing novel disease-modifying therapies.

“Her pioneering ‘gene-silencing’ therapeutics have opened new avenues for the development of treatments for Huntington’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.”

Professor Tabrizi has advanced our understanding of Huntington’s disease (HD) in patients at every level, an incurable genetic dementia that affects young people. Her research has laid the foundations for all current clinical trials in this disease; and has identified new drug targets in DNA repair which have opened up an entire new field of therapeutics for HD and other repeat expansion diseases.

The MRC Prize Committee also recognised Professor Tabrizi’s ‘dedication to promoting a positive, open and fair research culture and actively championing equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)’, for decades at UCL, including being chosen as a UCL academic role model in 2013, and by being an active champion and mentor of women in science.

Professor Tabrizi is Director of the UCL Huntington’s Disease (HD) Centre, Professor of Clinical Neurology and joint head of Department of Neurodegenerative Disease at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, consultant neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery at UCLH, and a Group Leader at the UK Dementia Research Institute.

Sarah Tabrizi and team.jpg
Sarah Tabrizi with the UCL and UCLH Huntington's disease team


She said: “I am incredibly honoured to receive the MRC Millennium Medal for 2022 as a joint winner; it is a recognition of all the patients and families with Huntington's disease whom I have worked with over the past 25 years.

“I am also grateful to all my PhD students, postdocs, and clinical fellows, past and present; my colleagues at the UCL HD centre, without whose partnership I wouldn't be where I am today, and my colleagues at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology and the UK Dementia Research Institute for their immense support over the years. My success is dependent on all of them.”

UCLH chief executive David Probert said: “I am delighted that Professor Tabrizi has been recognized in this way. She is an outstanding scientist and clinician, and has inspired countless others in her focus and drive to find a cure for Huntington’s disease. We are extremely fortunate to count her among our colleagues at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and to consider her part of our UCLH family.”

UK DRI Research Communications Manager Alex Collcutt interviewed Professor Tabrizi soon after she learnt that she had been awarded the 2022 MRC Millennium Medal.

She reflected on her career to date, her passion for scientific investigation and tireless drive to deliver a cure for her patients at the NHNN.