Professional background

Dr Brownlee is a consultant neurologist and clinical Lead for the multiple sclerosis service at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, and honorary associate professor at UCL Institute of Neurology.

He completed undergraduate and postgraduate training in Auckland, New Zealand before moving to London to undertake PhD studies. His thesis focused on the use of MRI to improve the diagnosis of MS, and the identification of prognostic markers on MRI to better understand long-term outcomes in people with MS.

Dr Brownlee has been a consultant at the National Hospital since 2016. His main focus is seeing patients with MS and related disorders. He has a special interest in paediatric-onset MS and works closely with the team at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Dr Brownlee is part of the Pan-London Multiple Sclerosis Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) multidisciplinary team. Dr Brownlee was appointed as clinical lead for the MS Service in 2019, providing clinical leadership and strategic direction for the largest specialist MS service in the UK. 

Research interests

MS diagnostic criteria, prognostic factors in early MS and imaging.

Dr Brownlee is principal invetigator on a number of ongoing clinical trials investigating new treatments and treatment strategies for multiple sclerosis and neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder.


Over 50 publiations in peer-reviewed journals.

Key publications:

Brownlee W, Galetta S. The optic nerve in MS diagnostic criteria: An aye to the eyes? Neurology 2021 (online ahead of print)

Brownlee WJ. COVID-19 and high-efficacy multiple sclerosis therapies: Time for business as usual? Multiple Sclerosis Journal. 2020 Sep;26:1267

Brownlee W, Bourdette D, Broadley S, Killestein J, Ciccarelli O. Treating multiple sclerosis and neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic Neurology 2020;94:949-952

Hacohen Y, Brownlee W, Mankad K, Chong WK, Thompson A, Lim M, Wassmer E, Hemingway C, Barkhof F, Ciccarelli O. Improved performance of the 2017 McDonald criteria for diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in children in a real-life cohort. Multiple Sclerosis Journal 2020;26:1372-1380

Brownlee WJ, Altmann DR, Prados F, Miszkiel KA, Eshaghi A, Gandini Wheeler-Kingshott CAM, Barkhof F, Ciccarelli O. Early MRI predictors of long-term outcomes in relapse-onset multiple sclerosis Brain 2019 142:2276-2287

Brownlee WJ, Solanky B, Prados F, Yiannakas M, Da Mota P, Riemer F, Cardoso MJ, Ourselin S, Golay X, Gandini Wheeler-Kingshott C, Ciccarelli O. Cortical grey matter sodium accumulation is associated with disability and secondary progressive disease course in relapse-onset multiple sclerosis. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 2019; 90:755-760

De Angelis F, John N, Brownlee WJ. Disease-modifying therapies for relapsing multiple sclerosis British Medical Journal 2018; 363:k4674

Brownlee WJ, Miszkiel KA, Tur C, Barkhof F, Miller DH, Ciccarelli O. Inclusion of optic nerve involvement in dissemination in space criteria for multiple sclerosis. Neurology 2018; 91:e1130-e1134

Brownlee WJ. Do spinal cord lesions matter in people with clinically isolated syndrome and early multiple sclerosis? Multiple Sclerosis Journal 2018; 24:430-431.

Brownlee WJ, Hardy TH, Fazekas F, Miller DH. Diagnosis of multiple sclerosis: progress and challenges. The Lancet 2017; 389:1336-1346

Brownlee WJ, Altmann DR, Alves Da Mota P, Swanton JK, Miszkiel KA, Gandini Wheeler-Kingshott CAM, Ciccarelli O, Miller DH. Association of asymptomatic spinal cord lesions and atrophy with disability 5 years after a clinically isolated syndrome. Multiple Sclerosis Journal 2017; 665-674.

Brownlee WJ, Swanton JK, Miszkiel KA, Miller DH, Ciccarelli O. Should we include lesions in the symptomatic region in dissemination in space? Neurology 2016; 87:680-3.

Brownlee WJ, Swanton JK, Altmann DR, Ciccarelli O, Miller DH. Earlier and more frequent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis using the McDonald criteria. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 2015 86:584-5