UCL Institute of Neurology


Division of Neuropathology

The Division of Neuropathology (DNP) is one of the largest academic Neuropathology departments in the UK and has a substantial grant income leading to high quality academic output. It provides research infrastructure and expertise to IoN and diagnostic services to NHNN. It drives implementation of research innovation and is provider of essential tissue resources for basic and applied research at IoN. Importantly, there is close alignment and high synergy between research themes in the Division and the Institute. Current key areas are adult and paediatric neuromuscular pathology, neurodegeneration, neuro-oncology, and epilepsy.

Main achievements

The most successful growth areas in the DNP are neurooncology, neurodegeneration and neuromuscular diseases, corresponding to clinical needs of the Hospital and research strategies of the Institute. Important achievements are the integration of the Dubowitz Neuromuscular Centre and collaboration with the MRC Neuromuscular Centre, establishment of successful neuro-oncology research and molecular diagnostics, including a substantial tumour bank, substantial research output in neurodegeneration and a highly successful collaboration with the MRC Prion Unit, with strategically relevant vCJD surveillance studies of national importance. The histology phenotyping and imaging platform UCL IQPath, established in 2012, became a key facility for UCL researchers.

The PI grant income of the four clinical academics in DNP 2010-2013 was £5.5m. Due to service reconfigurations across London and collaborations with IoN departments, we have seen a 30-50% growth in the domains neuro-oncology, neuromuscular and epilepsy diagnostics and in neurodegeneration autopsies, underpinning the strategic relevance for IoN and NHNN.

We have recently implemented the new training programme “Diagnostic Neuropathology”. A significant achievement is the establishment of an NIHR academic lecturer post (ACL) in the DNP for April 2014.

Main objectives of the Division 

Reconfigurations of regional health services will further consolidate highly specialised diagnostic services into the DNP. RFH, Bart’s Health and Brighton have already transferred their neuro-oncology diagnostics to DNP. Other partners are discussing to transfer their service in the near future. The benefits are better patient care, ideal training and teaching conditions, and cost effectiveness. It will at the same time draw in world class clinical academics from UCLP to contribute to brain tumour R&D. DNP will further expand as an academically active Division, will concentrate on delivering a high complexity diagnostic services and will continue to deliver high quality research and academic training.

Four domains will remain a strong research focus over the next five years: Brain tumours (with focus on molecular diagnostics and basic research), neurodegeneration (QSBB and prion diseases), neuromuscular diagnostics and research (neuropathies, adult and paediatric muscular disorders) and epilepsy.

DNP is now involved in designing and delivering high quality training programmes across London. From 2014, DNP will be lead training provider for Neuropathology in London by delivering an innovative, comprehensive, fully integrated training programme across UCLP.

A strong demand from UCL departments to use the expertise of UCL IQPath histology and imaging will lead to increasing the facility’s resources to expand its capacity.