Brain Sciences


New home in the Provost’s Office for Pro-Provost (London)

20 September 2021

Written by Professor Alan Thompson, Dean, Faculty of Brain Sciences and Pro Vice Provost (London), UCL.

Professor Alan Thompson

As we commence a new academic year, I am delighted to share the news that my London role has recently expanded to become Pro-Provost (London) and from 1st September, the London Office Team are part of the UCL Office of the President & Provost. This move reflects the importance of London and the central position of our brilliant capital city in the university’s long-term strategy.

I began my role as UCL’s first Pro-Vice-Provost (London) a little over two years ago, in June 2019, when ‘London’ was based within the Office of the Vice-Provost (Advancement). Following an extensive recruitment search, Amy Lightstone was appointed to Head of Engagement and Operations (London) in February 2020 and so the London Office was created. In November 2020 we formally launched the London Framework, a way of working for UCL in, of and for London. Since then, we have successfully created a portal for UCL in London, establishing a London Office which advocates and provides a platform for all UCL’s London-focussed activity. We have built connections within UCL, particularly with UCL East and also externally with our London partners.

We are continuing to showcase how UCL is impacting our local neighbours, communities and stakeholders and importantly, we are striving to strengthen and develop our regional partnerships. In early September our team grew when we welcomed Sarah Beech as Project Officer (London) to support our wider priorities, and we are now thrilled to join the Provost’s Office whilst continuing to drive the London agenda.

I’ve spoken before about how UCL is an integral and critical part of London, and how we actively work in a huge variety of ways with our communities and neighbours. My role as Pro-Provost (London) will now shift upwards to 0.5 FTE, enabling greater time and energy to be spent evolving the London Framework and enhancing our place in the capital. UCL now has three Pro-Provost’s assisting the Provost – Professor Sasha Roseneil, Pro-Provost (Equity and Inclusion), Professor Geraint Rees (Academic Planning) and myself. I am absolutely delighted to have a seat at the table with my colleagues, and importantly the opportunity to ensure London is at the forefront of our new institutional strategy. 

President & Provost Dr Michael Spence said of the move:

“The importance of London to UCL and UCL to London is only going to grow as we develop our collaborations and welcome students, staff, partners and visitors to UCL East. Alan has done a tremendous job in providing visibility and leadership support for the multitude of ways in which we are engaging across London and I’m really looking forward to working with him more closely and drawing on his expertise in this area.”


Moving into a new academic year and new term always allows for new ideas and priorities to take shape. This term we have committed to achieving three of our strategic priorities which will ultimately enable us to meet our goal of enhancing engagement, coordinating relationships, and enriching society whilst amplifying UCL’s impact in London. 

We will focus on the following areas:

  1. Developing and enriching our relationships with our local partners in London – recognising the emphasis UCL places on being an effective and collaborative partner between our staff, students, stakeholders and local communities. I will use my role as Pro-Provost (London) to champion UCL in London and to work with our partners to develop solutions and enhance our way of working. A new forum, the Engagement Futures Group, will be created to enable greater access to and from UCL, with our local authority partners and academic community.
  2. Understanding our place and impact in London – this term the London Office is undertaking a significant research project which seeks to understand local people’s perceptions of UCL in London. Additionally, the study will help us to understand the value UCL brings to London from the perspective of our core partners. The outcomes will help to determine our future priorities.
  3. Recognising and rewarding the UCL community through volunteering – UCL staff already give back considerably to London, whether it is through volunteering with local charities, supporting regional organisations or using professional accreditations to enrich society. All of these commitments are currently unmeasured. This term we will start to collate our staff volunteering in London and strive to develop plans, which seek to recognise all of our staff contributions and commitments to London.

As always, the London Office would like to hear from any UCL staff and students who work in and with our region. Likewise, please do get in touch if you are a London organisation or partner and would like to discuss any of our London priorities. If you would like to receive regular updates, then please do add your details to our mailing list here.


Professor Alan Thompson, Pro-Provost (London)
Professor Alan Thompson is Pro-Provost (London), UCL’s London champion and figurehead for UCL’s London activity. He strategically leads, guides and connects the university’s London-focused engagement through the UCL London Office. Professor Thompson is also Dean of the Faculty of Brain Sciences and holds the Garfield Weston Chair of Clinical Neurology and Neurorehabilitation, specialising in Multiple Sclerosis. He is the winner of the 2020 Sobek Research Prize and the 2021 Charcot Award, recognising a lifetime of achievement in outstanding research into understanding and treating MS. 

Amy Lightstone, Head of Engagement and Operations (London)
Amy Lightstone leads the UCL London Office, developing and implementing the UCL London Framework. She oversees and manages the delivery of London Office related activities, including establishing and developing relationships with our partners in London, championing London-focussed UCL activities and amplifying UCL’s impact in London. Amy joined UCL in 2020 having previously worked as Head of Strategy at London Higher, the London regional higher education association representing over 40 London institutions, and the Head of London Medicine, the group representing London’s five university medical schools. Contact Amy here.

Sarah Beech, Project Officer (London)
Sarah Beech supports the coordination and development of specific London Office external partnerships, including UCL’s Memorandum of Understanding with Camden Council. She works closely with internal colleagues across UCL to ensure alignment in UCL London-focussed initiatives, as well as contributing to the London Office communications. Sarah previously worked within the department of Science Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) at UCL as a Research Project Manager. She has worked in project management in a variety of settings including Londonwide Local Medical Committees and the Royal Institute of British Architects. Contact Sarah here.