Professional background

Professor Alan Thompson is a consultant neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN), Queen Square.  His specialty is multiple sclerosis (MS), and he currently runs an MS service offering specialist diagnostic, relapse, and rehabilitation clinics.

Alan Thompson is dean of the UCL faculty of brain sciences and UCL's pro vice-provost for London, Garfield Weston professor of clinical neurology and neurorehabilitation at the UCL Institute of Neurology, chair of the neuroscience programme at the UCL Partners Academic Health Science Centre, and an NIHR senior investigator emeritus.  He studied medicine at Trinity College Dublin and trained in neurology at St Vincent’s/Adelaide Hospital, Dublin, The Royal London Hospital, and in neurology and neurorehabilitation at NHNN in Queen Square, London.  He holds an honorary doctorate from Hasselt University, Belgium, for his work in neurorehabilitation.  He established the neurorehabilitation service at NHNN, and was NHNN clinical director from 2003 to 2007.

Professor Thompson’s research focuses on understanding the pathological mechanisms that result in neurological disability and recovery using structural and functional imaging, developing scientifically sound outcome measures that incorporate the patient’s perspective, and has carried out trials of interventions in MS, neurological rehabilitation, and symptom management.  He has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals in these areas. 

Currently he chairs the Scientific Advisory Committee of the PMSA (International Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Alliance) which is coordinating research into the causes of and possible therapies for progressive forms of the disease.

Research interests

Multiple sclerosis, progressive multiple sclerosis, neurorehabilitation, demyelinating disease


Selected publications

1. Thompson AJ, Banwell BL, Barkhof F…Cohen J. Diagnosis of multiple sclerosis: 2017 revisions of the McDonald criteria. Lancet Neurology 2018; 17:162-173.

2. Montalban X, Gold R, Thompson AJ et al. ECTRIMS/EAN guideline on the pharmacological treatment of people with multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis Journal, online 20 January 2018 (IF 5.280); European Journal of Neurology 2018; 25:215-237.

3. Thompson AJ, Baranzini S, Geurts JJ, Hemmer B, Ciccarelli O. Multiple Sclerosis. The Lancet 2018; 391 (10130):1622-1636.

4. Lublin FD, Reingold SC, Cohen JA, Cutter GR, Soelberg Sørensen P, Thompson AJ, et al. Defining the clinical course of multiple sclerosis. Neurology 2014; 83:278-286.

5. Freund P, Weiskopf N, Ashburner J, Wolf K, Sutter R, Altmann DR, Friston K, Thompson A, Curt A. MRI investigation of the sensorimotor cortex and corticospinal tract after spinal cord injury: a prospective longitudinal study. Lancet Neurology 2013; 12(9): 873-881.

6. Freund P, Weiskopf N, Ward NS, Hutton C, Gall A, Ciccarelli O, Craggs M, Friston K, Thompson AJ. Disability, atrophy and cortical reorganization following spinal cord injury. Brain 2011; 134:1610-1622.

7. Polman CH, Reingold SC, Banwell B, (…) Thompson AJ, (…) Wolinsky JS. Diagnostic criteria for multiple sclerosis: 2010 revisions to the McDonald Criteria. Annals of Neurology 2011; 69:292-302.

8. Ciccarelli O, Wheeler-Kingshott CA, McLean MA, Cercignani M, Wimpey K, Miller DH, Thompson AJ. Spinal cord spectroscopy and diffusion-based tractography to assess acute disability in multiple sclerosis. Brain 2007; 130:2220-2231.

9. Toosy AT, Hickman SJ, Miszkiel KA, Jones SJ, Plant GT, Altmann DR, Barker GJ, Miller DH, Thompson AJ. Adaptive cortical plasticity in higher visual areas after acute optic neuritis. Annals of Neurology 2005; 57:622-633.

10. Polman CH, Reingold SC, Edan G….Thompson AJ, Weinshenker BG, Wolinsky JS. Diagnostic criteria for multiple sclerosis: 2005 Revisions to the “McDonald Criteria”. Annals of Neurology 2005; 58-6:840-846.

11. Ward NS, Brown MM, Thompson AJ, Frackowiak RSJ. Neural correlates of motor recovery after stroke: a longitudinal fMRI study. Brain 2003; 126: 2476-2496.

12. McDonald WI, Compston A, Edan G, Goodkin D, Hartung H-P, Lublin FD, McFarland HF, Paty DW, Polman CH, Reingold SC, Sandberg-Wolheim M, Sibley W, Thompson A, van den Noort S, Weinshenker BY, Wolinsky JS. Recommended diagnostic criteria for multiple sclerosis: guidelines from the International Panel on the Diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Annals of Neurology 2001;50:121-127.

13. Hobart JC, Lamping DL, Fitzpatrick R, Riazi A, Thompson AJ. The Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale (MSIS-29): a new patient-based outcome measure. Brain 2001;124:962-973.

14. Thompson AJ, Kermode AG, Wicks D, MacManus DG, Kendall BE, Kingsley DP, McDonald WI. Major differences in the dynamics of primary and secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. Annals of Neurology 1991; 29:53-62.

15. Thompson AJ, Smith I, Brenton D, Youl BD, Rylance G, Davidson DC, Kellar-Wood HF, Lees AJ. Neurological deterioration in young adults with phenylketonuria. The Lancet 1990; 336:602-605.