UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Dr Jo Barnes

Jo Barnes


Can you give us an overview of your current position and explain what was your career path to this role?       

I am an Associate Professor at Queen Square Institute of Neurology working at 0.8FTE. I am also the Faculty Graduate Tutor for research students and a local Research Department Graduate Tutor. This means I perform research and supervise PhD students, and I also look after the experience of more than one thousand research students within Faculty of Brain Sciences. I’ve worked at QSIoN for more than twenty years, starting as a graduate research assistant. Luckily, I was able to do my PhD part time and then work my way up to my current position, securing a number of fellowships along the way to help me perform my research.


Can you tell us about a piece of work that you are particularly proud of?

In terms of research, our recently published work in Brain Communications which looks at the independent relationships of markers of presumed small vessel disease and brain atrophy, has been a highlight. This work also investigated the heterogeneity in patterns of biomarkers becoming abnormal and revealed that for some individuals, small vessel disease occurred early in the disease course, whereas for others it was a later development. Getting to publication was a real team effort and I’m thankful to everyone involved.


This year’s theme for international women’s day is “Break the Bias”. What bias would you like to break?

Here, I would like to break the bias that rewards individuals rather than teams. It’s the team that makes science happen and that team can be more diverse and skilled than any one individual can ever be.


What advice would you give to your younger self?   

Try to enjoy good things when they happen. Don’t just look at the next thing you need to do!

Who is a female role model to you? Why? 

I actually get my inspiration from a number of sources. I’m constantly in awe of the students who are finishing their PhDs and research degrees at this difficult time. The last few years has been tough for everyone and managing to submit at this time is a real achievement. I’m also inspired by many of the women I have had the pleasure of working along side, both in my tutoring role (Dr Rachael Scahill, Prof Tammaryn Lashley and Dr Julie Evans) and also in my research (Prof Wiesje van der Flier, Dr Martina Bocchetta, Dr Carole Sudre, and Prof Tammaryn Lashley again).

Similar to many people I have periods where the workload extends beyond my contracted hours. However, overall, my schedule is fairly flexible which enables me to have a reasonable work / life balance. I became part-time following my return from my first maternity leave. My second child is also now at school which gives me some time every week to catch up with myself.  

What is your favourite thing to do in your spare time? 

I love running with my dog Jack in the forest near my house.