UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Dr Alex Leff awarded NIHR research professorship

28 June 2016

"I am delighted to announce that Alex Leff (Department of Brain Repair and Rehabilitation, UCL Institute of Neurology) has been awarded
a prestigious NIHR Research Professorship".
Professor Michael Hanna, Director UCL Institute of Neurology

These awards enable outstanding early career academics to spend a fixed five-year period dedicated to translational research at Professorial level promoting effective translation of research ('bench to bedside’ and 'campus to clinic'), strengthening research leadership at the highest academic levels and developing research capacity in areas critical to accelerating the transfer of research ideas into improved health. These professorships require the post holders to retain a continuing link with service delivery.

Dr Leff is a consultant neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery as well as Professor in Cognitive Neurology at UCL from October. He helped establish the UCL Centre for Neurorehabilitation in 2013 and has set up specialist clinics for patients with cognitive and/or visual impairments, including the only hemianopia clinic in the country.

The specific focus of Dr Leff's research is digital neuro-interventions to enhance re-learning in patients with acquired and degenerative brain diseases. Acquired brain injury (stroke, traumatic brain injury and tumours) and degenerative brain diseases (dementia) account for the vast majority of the cognitive impairments suffered by adults worldwide. There is a wealth of evidence showing that damaged brains can learn if engaged in the correct form of deliberate practice.

Neuro-Interventions (practice-based treatments that target specific brain functions) can improve outcomes in adult patients with cognitive impairment, but there is currently no easy way for patients to access these treatments, which are traditionally provided during face-to-face therapy sessions.

My research addresses this translational failure. I will produce three computer-based therapies (digital neuro-interventions) that patients with specific impairments of their thinking and memory skills can use to boost re-learning: 1) for patients with visuospatial neglect; 2) for patients with dementia and problems naming the people they know; 3) a naming intervention for aphasic patients who have word-finding difficulties. Dr Alex Leff, Department of Brain Repair and Rehabilitation, UCL Institute of Neurology

About the award

These awards are open to researchers who have an outstanding record of clinical and applied health research, and its effective translation for improved health.

NIHR Research Professorships are fixed term 5 year appointments. The award will consist of a package to support a professorship, a post-doctoral appointment, research running costs, a travel fund, access to the NIHR Leadership Programme, the opportunity to request a sabbatical, as well as the basic salary costs of the individual (plus indirect costs, for the HEI nominating body). Value of award £1.8M.

Further information