Queen Square Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases

Prof Michael Hanna

Prof Michael Hanna

Professor of Clinical Neurology

Department of Neuromuscular Diseases

UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology

Joined UCL
1st Oct 2002

Research summary

My group has a long standing clinical and genetic research interest in neurological channelopathies and in mitochondrial neuromuscular diseases. We are also interested in mechanisms of muscle degeneration in acquired muscle disease particularly IBM.

My research has focused on improved understanding of the molecular genetics basis and molecular mechanisms of neurological diseases caused by mitochondrial dysfunction and by ion channel dysfunction. Many of these diseases particularly affect the neuromuscular system and my clinical specialist interest has focused on developing better services for patients with neuromuscular neurological diseases.

Ion Channel Research Programme

Many important neurological diseases are episodic causing patients to experience attacks of unpredictable severe neurological dysfunction separated by periods of apparent normality. The commonest episodic neurological disorders are epilepsy and migraine but their precise molecular pathophysiology is an important unsolved neuroscience      challenge. In addition, there are many severe disabling disorders of episodic muscle dysfunction such as episodic total muscle periodic paralysis and intermittent and severe disabling muscle myotonic stiffness. 

Mitochondrial Research Programme

I have a particular interest in the link between mitochondrial DNA mutations and human disease. We have defined a large number of human pathological mtDNA mutations and have elucidated their molecular pathogenesis through various expression systems including human primary muscle cell cultures. We have established that approximately 70% of human adult mitochondrial disease is caused by primary mtDNA mutations. More recently we have used whole exome genetic approaches in the remaining 30% of adult case and have recently been successful in identifying new nuclear genes that encode proteins that are targeted to the mitochondria and control respiratory chain assembly and mitochondrial fission.


Royal College of Physicians
Doctorate, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians | 2002
University of Manchester
Doctorate, Doctor of Medicine | 1996
Royal College of Physicians
Doctorate, Member of the Royal College of Physicians | 1991
University of Manchester
Doctorate, Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery | 1988
University of Manchester
First Degree, BSc (Hons) Open | 1986


Professor Michael G Hanna is a Consultant Neurologist with a longstanding clinical and research interest in muscle diseases and is head of the Queen Square muscle disease clinical service. Professor Hanna is also Director of the UCL Institute of Neurology-Newcastle University MRC Centre for translational research in neuromuscular diseases. The central mission of the MRC Centre is to work closely with clinical and scientific colleagues across UCL and Newcastle to add value to basic science programmes and catalyse the pipeline from discovery to treatment. The centre has established new core activities to overcome gaps in translation, including a neuromuscular clinical trials centre, an animal model unit, a UK muscle cell-line biobank, an outcome measure activity which includes neuromuscular MRI and a translational research PhD programme.

Michael is a senior member of the North American Muscle Study Group - a consortium of scientific investigators who are committed to running controlled clinical trials for neuromuscular diseases. He is also corresponding member of the American Neurological association, member of the World Muscle Society and is a Guarantor of Brain.Michael qualified inMedical Biochemistry and then in Medicine at the University of Manchester andundertook postgraduate medical and neurological training posts in Newcastle, Oxford and London. He was an MRC training fellow to Professor Anita Harding undertaking his medical doctorate research in the genetics of mitochondrial diseases. He became a consultant at the National Hospital and Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Neurology in 1997 and Professor in Clinical Neurology in 2006.

He has a long-standing research interest in elucidating molecular genetic mechanisms in mitochondrial diseases and muscle/neurological channelopathies and also in the development of improved genetic diagnostics. He leads the UK national diagnostic reference laboratory and advisory service for channelopathies and co-leads a similar service for mitochondrial diseases.He has published over170 peer reviewed original research papers including New England Journal of Medicine, American Journal of Human Genetics, Lancet Neurology and Lancet, and has held the position of deputy Editor of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry since 2003.