UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Charles David Marsden FRS, DSc, FRCP, MRCPsych, MBBS

Professor David Marsden (19th April 1938 – 29 September 1998) was one of the outstanding clinician neuroscientists of the 20th Century.

david marsden
He trained at St Thomas Hospital where, in 1956, he obtained First Class honours in an Intercalated B Sc degree, followed in 1960 by his MSc thesis on Pigmentation in the substantia nigra. After qualifying MB, BS in 1963 he was lecturer in Medicine at Tommies, then Senior Resident at Queen Square, and was then appointed Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry and King’s College Hospital Medical School, and Consultant at the Maudsley and King’s College Hospitals. At age 34 he was appointed to the newly established Chair of Neurology, and built up a superb team of fellows in neurology, neuropharmacology and neurophysiology. Whilst at King’s he was awarded the MRCPsych, followed by Fellowship of the Royal Society, and then a DSc

After 17 years south of the Thames, he was appointed to the Chair of the Department of Clinical Neurology at Queen Square, where he worked for a further 11 years, the last three as Dean of the Institute of Neurology.

His passion was for the emerging subspecialty of Movement Disorders. He established dedicated clinics for Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders, particularly dystonia.

He was extraordinarily productive, authoring 1,368 papers, book chapters and other publications. He served on the Councils of the Royal Society, the Royal College of Physicians, and the Medical Research Council. He had 40 visiting professorships in 18 countries, and gave 38 named lectures.

Together with Stanley Fahn at Columbia University, New York, he co-founded the Movement Disorder Society in 1985 and the Movement Disorders Journal (MDJ) in 1986. He edited the Journal of Neurology and Neurosurgery for a decade, followed by MDJ, and served on the editorial boards of a further 21 journals.

His other great legacies were: establishing the UK Parkinson’s Disease Brain Bank (with Professor Andrew Lees); his magnum opus Marsden’s Book of Movement Disorders (posthumously completed by Professor Kailash Bhatia); and the many fellows who passed through his hands to become world leaders in Movement Disorders.

After his three-year tenure as Dean, he took his first sabbatical, to NIH in Bethesda, but died suddenly, aged 60, after only three weeks there.

After his death, the Royal Society published a comprehensive biographical memoir written by Professors Quinn (Neurology), Jenner (Pharmacology) and Rothwell (Neurophysiology)

Professor Niall Quinn

Biogr. Mems Fell. R. Soc. 58, 203-228 (2012)