UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology

Prof Maria Thom

Prof Maria Thom

Professor of Neuropathology

Clinical & Experimental Epilepsy

UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology

Joined UCL
1st Aug 1997

Research summary

I am an academic neuropathologist with a research interest in epilepsy. In 2013 I established an epilepsy brain and tissue bank as a research resource for local projects at UCL as well as outside research groups. This is funded by Epilepsy Society. The ERUK also supports the Corsellis Epilepsy Brain Collection. Recent research grants from MRC, NIH and Wellcome trust have funded research projects. I currently work with three-post docs in neuropathology a research fellow and a brain bank manager. The main research focus in the last 10 years has explored localised cyto-architectural brain abnormalities as a structural cause for temporal lobe and other focal epilepsies, their aetiology, mechanisms of epileptogenesis, correlation with seizures, the basis of cognitive and psychiatric co-morbidities in epilepsy and, neuropathology-MRI correlative studies. Neuropathology quantitative methods and stereology have been integrated with gene-expression studies, cell culture and single cell proteomics analysis. Main areas of research include: 1. Malformations of cortical development (MCD) in adult epilepsy including focal cortical dysplasia. 2.  Hippocampal Sclerosis (HS) in Epilepsy. 3. Glioneuronal tumours in epilepsy. 4. Gliosis, regeneration and repair in brain injury and epilepsy. 5. Post-mortem studies in epilepsy including neurodegenerative mechanisms. 6.  SUDEP neuropathology including stereological histopathologic analysis of brainstem/autonomic pathways regulating cardiorespiratory function, aiming to provide insights into risk factors and the neuropathological signature of SUDEP. I have co-authored over 200 published peer reviewed papers, 16 chapters on epilepsy neuropathology (including the last 2 editions of Greenfields Neuropathology (2015, 9th Ed) and over 98 conference abstracts. 

Teaching summary

I lecture on Euro CNS courses (basic and forensic) and I am a tutor on ILAE International Epilepsy Summer schools. I lecture annually on the BSc and MSc Neuroscience course at UCL including the module, ‘Neurobiology of Brain Injury and Disease’. I am involved in training of local neuropathology SpRs and lecturing on histopathology MRCPath training courses. I am involved through the BNS in lecturing on the UK neuropathology trainee programme.


I trained in medicine as an undergraduate at Guy’s in London, qualifying in 1989. I started my training in General Histopathology at St Mary’s Hospital London, under Professor David Evans,  until 1993. I then became a lecturer in neuropathology at Queen Square in 1994 under the then head of department Professor Scaravilli,  until I qualified with MRCPath in 1995.  I was then appointed a consultant in Neuropathology in 1996. I am a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists (since 2003). I have written the autopsy guidelines for the college on epilepsy deaths in 2006 and revised them in 2019. I also co-author the Royal College datasets for reporting of CNS tumours and tissue pathways for non-neoplastic lesions.  I am a member of the British Neuropathological Society (BNS) (Since 1994) and I was honorary secretary to BNS (2016-2019). With the International League Against epilepsy (ILAE), Diagnostic methods commission (2009 - current), I have been involved in a series of task forces during this period with a mission to develop international neuropathology classification guidelines in epilepsy, published in Epilepsia: Focal cortical dysplasia (2009-2011), Hippocampal sclerosis (2011-2013), Low grade epilepsy associated tumours (2013-2018), Focal cortical dysplasia updates (2017-2021). I am on the Editorial board of Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology (2013 to current and executive editor since 2016). I am also the DI for the HTA at Institute of Neurology (2012 to current). There are currently six research tissue banks/collections and three satellite licences at IoN. I am the person designate for the Epilepsy Tissue Bank at UCL (2013-current). I am also the current International Society of Neuropathology Archivist and Council member (term: 2014 - 2022). I have been  a member of Centre for SUDEP research (2014 to present), an international group of basic scientists and clinical scientists involved in SUDEP research.