Queen Square Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases

Prof Rickie Patani

Prof Rickie Patani

Professor of Human Stem Cells and Regenerative Neurology

Department of Neuromuscular Diseases

UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology

Joined UCL
2nd Oct 2013

Research summary

We study diseases of the nervous system, focusing on motor neuron disease (ALS) and dementia. In ALS, patients lose the ability to move, eat, speak and ultimately breathe. ALS is untreatable because we do not understand the underlying cause(s) of disease. In order to understand disease mechanisms, we use human stem cells generated from real patients. With over a decade of experience using this technology, we can now transform stem cells from patients into human nerve cells and, separately, their support cells (called glia). This approach allows us to determine the sequence of disease-related events within particular cell types. 


Our overarching goal is to identify precisely what goes wrong, when this begins and in which cell type. We specifically focus on how the following three factors contribute to nerve cell death in ALS:


1) Messages called RNAs, which are made from our DNA blueprint

2) Astrocytes, which are star-shaped cells that normally support nerve cells

3) Ageing, which is the biggest risk factor for many neurodegenerative diseases including ALS


The more we understand about human neurological diseases using this approach, the more we will be able to therapeutically target underlying disease mechanisms. We ultimately wish to use this new information to benefit patients with untreatable neurological diseases.



Royal College of Physicians
FRCP, Neurology | 2018
General Medical Council
CCST, Neurology | 2017
Royal College of Physicians
SPCERT, Neurology | 2015
University of Cambridge
PhD, Cell and Developmental Biology | 2011
Royal College of Physicians
MRCP, Medicine | 2007
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
MBBS, Medicine | 2004
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
BSc Hons, Neuroscience and Medical Science | 2002


Professor Rickie Patani is a physician scientist with over a decade of direct experience working on human induced pluripotent stem cell models of neurodegeneration. Rickie obtained his BSc (in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience) and MBBS from Imperial College London in 2004. He gained MRCP in 2007 and a PhD in Human Stem Cell Neurobiology from Cambridge University in 2011, funded by a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Fellowship.


While completing his higher clinical training in Neurology, he was awarded a Wellcome Trust Clinician Scientist Fellowship and started his research group at UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology in 2013. Rickie gained MRCP (Neurology) in 2015 and was appointed Honorary Consultant Neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square in 2017.


Rickie's lab moved to the Francis Crick Institute in 2017, where they continue to work primarily on human induced pluripotent stem cell models of neurodegeneration, with particular focus on the themes of RNA metabolism and cellular autonomy. In 2018, Rickie was elected Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and secured an MRC Senior Clinical Fellowship. Rickie was promoted to Associate Professor in 2018 and subsequently full Professor in 2019.


The Patani Lab have a diverse portfolio of public engagement activities (see the group's twitter account @PataniLab for more information).