UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Professor Olga Ciccarelli awarded NIHR research professorship

3 August 2018

Leading UCL neuroscientist Professor Olga Ciccarelli has been awarded a Research Professorship, the highest honour granted by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).

olga ciccarelli
"I am delighted to announce that Olga (Department of Neuroinflammation, UCL Institute of Neurology) has been awarded a prestigious NIHR Research Professorship". Professor Michael Hanna, Director UCL Institute of Neurology

Professor Ciccarelli (UCL Institute of Neurology) is one of just seven UK-based scientists, who successfully applied for a Research Professorship in 2018, and will receive up to £2 million from NIHR. This is the sixth year in succession a UCL academic has been awarded this honour.

The Research Professorship aims to facilitate strong research leadership and to develop the capacity for research in areas critical to accelerating the transfer of research ideas to deliver better health.

Professor Ciccarelli's grant will be used to develop a computer tool, which will enable doctors to more accurately predict, which medicines individuals with Multiple Sclerosis will respond better too.

“There are many licensed drugs that reduce the risk of relapses in Multiple Sclerosis, but doctors cannot predict which of these will work best for an individual,” Professor Ciccarelli said. “The decision about which drug to give to a patient is based on personal preference. Medications are changed if patients develop relapses, disability and adverse events".
"The goal of this research is to develop a computer tool that predicts whether an individual patient will respond to a drug by taking into account all the elements that may influence treatment response, including demographic and genetic factors, blood biomarkers, MRI, diet, comorbidities and life style".
“We will use machine learning, which is a sub-area of artificial intelligence, to predict individual treatment responses. This crucial information will help doctors to select the most appropriate treatment for Multiple Sclerosis patients.”

The National Institute of Health Research, Trainees Coordinating Centre (NIHR, TCC) approved the funding of five Research Professorships, and for the first time, two Global Health Research Professorships, which will run until 2023.

Professor Dave Jones OBE, Dean of NIHR Faculty Trainees, said: “We are delighted to announce that seven new NIHR Research Professorships have been awarded to outstanding individuals. This is the eighth time we have offered NIHR Research Professorships, and these seven join a prestigious group of leading health researchers who make a significant contribution to advancing the health of the nation and training the next generation of health researchers working in the NHS and our universities.”

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