UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology

Prof Matthew Walker

Prof Matthew Walker

Professor of Neurology

Clinical & Experimental Epilepsy

UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology

Joined UCL
1st Apr 2003

Research summary

The overarching aims of the laboratory are to improve the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy and to identify new treatment strategies for drug resistant epilepsy and prolonged seizures (status epilepticus). 

Approximately 30% of people with epilepsy are not adequately controlled by medication and these people have a significant mortality and psychosocial morbidity. Most people with drug resistant epilepsy have acquired focal epilepsy, which can result following a specific brain injury, such as a stroke, brain tumour, head injury or status epilepticus. Status epilepticus is a medical emergency with high morbidity and mortality. It is associated with neuronal damage leading to neurological deficits, and chronic epilepsy. 30-40% of patients with status epilepticus are resistant to treatment and require anaesthesia in an intensive care unit. 

We combine in vivo and in vitro neurophysiology in order to address questions concerning the regulation of cortical excitability, mechanisms underlying epileptogenesis (the development of epilepsy), the treatment and pathology of prolonged seizures (status epilepticus), the localisation of seizure onset and the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy.

We use and have developed a range of methods including: in vitro patch clamp, dynamic clamp and calcium imaging for recording from rodent and human tissue; animal models of focal epilepsy; wireless video-EEG rodent telemetry in collaboration with Opensource instruments;  human intracranial EEG studies including micro microelectrode recordings for single neuron activity; wearable magnetoencephalography, using optically pumped magnetometers.

Using these: we have characterised novel form of cortical inhibition (with Prof Kullmann, Dr Pavlov); elucidated the role of reactive oxygen species in status epilepticus and epileptogenesis (with Prof Abramov); identified a novel dietary treatment and small molecules for drug-resistant epilepsies (with Prof Williams, Royal Holloway, Prof Heales); developed novel gene therapies for refractory focal epilepsies (with Prof Kullmann, Prof Schorge, Dr Lignani, Dr Wykes); determined the impact of cognitive processing on epileptic activity (with Dr Vivekananda, Prof Burgess) and tested the utility of wearable magnetoencephalography in epilepsy (with Dr Vivekananda, Prof Barnes).

Teaching summary

  • Regular teaching to medical students, junior doctors, neuroscience BSc and neuroscience MSc students.
  • PhD supervision.
  • Co-organiser of short courses on sleep and epilepsy at National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. 


Royal College of Physicians
Doctorate, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians | 2006
University College London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1997
Royal College of Physicians
Doctorate, Member of the Royal College of Physicians | 1992
United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy's and St.. Thomas's Hospitals
Doctorate, Bachelor of Medicine/ Bachelor of Surgery | 1989
University of Cambridge
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts | 1986


I studied medicine at Cambridge University and London (St. Thomas's Medical School), and trained in Neurology at St Thomas's, Guy's and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. I studied for my PhD at UCL on the treatment of status epilepticus (supervised by Prof Shorvon, Prof Patsalos and Prof Jefferys). I was then awarded an Advanced Wellcome fellowship and undertook post-doctoral training under Prof Kullmann. I established my own laboratory at UCL in 2003.
I am associate editor of Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders.
I am Chair of the International League against Epilepsy-Europe, chair of the ILAE translational task force and Chair of the Trustees of Epilepsy Research UK.