UCL News


Professor Alan Thompson receives prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award

22 June 2021

Huge congratulations to the Dean of the Faculty of Brain Sciences, Professor Alan Thompson, who has been awarded the 2021 Charcot Award, which recognises a lifetime of achievement in outstanding research into understanding and treating multiple sclerosis (MS).

Professor Alan Thompson

The Charcot Award is given by the MS International Federation (MSIF) – a unique global network of MS organisations, people affected by MS, volunteers and staff from around the world.

Professor Thompson will be presented with the accolade during the virtual European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) meeting (13-15 October 2021) where he will be giving the biennial Charcot Lecture.

Commenting on his award Professor Thompson said: “The Charcot Award is viewed by the MS community as the ultimate accolade for a lifetime’s work, and I’m absolutely delighted to be the 2021 recipient.

“It’s a fantastic acknowledgment of the MS work in which I’ve been involved since the early 80s initially in Dublin and with the team at Queen Square, reflecting the major contribution made by QSIoN and UCL. This award particularly acknowledges all the wonderful people who have encouraged, guided, and supported me over those four decades…Michael Hutchinson, Ian McDonald, , Xavier Montalban, Tim Coetzee, Olga Circcarelli, Ahmed Toosy to name just a few.

“Not to mention all those affected by MS who have engaged so willingly and enthusiastically in my research whenever asked.”

Professor Thompson first joined UCL in 1992 and has been the Dean of the Faculty of Brain Sciences since its creation in 2011. He holds the Garfield Weston Chair or Neurology and Neurorehabilitation, is a Chair of the Neuroscience Programme for UCLP Academic Health Science Centre, and is an NIHR Senior Investigator Emeritus, and an honorary consultant neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square.

Over the course of his 40-year career, Professor Thompson has made a tremendous impact on many areas of MS research and clinical care – focusing particularly on those affected by progressive forms of the disease.

Among many research achievements, Professor Thompson has carried out some of the first serial MRI studies of the natural history of individual disease groups in MS. He has also developed protocols used internationally for the use of MRI in assessing the effectiveness of new treatments.

He also chairs the Scientific Steering Committee of the International Progressive MS Alliance. And was invited to give the Hughlings Jackson lecture in Montreal last month.

The prestigious Charcot Award is the latest honour bestowed on Professor Thompson in recent years. In 2020 he was awarded the Sobek Prize from the German National MS Society and the MS Society of Baden-Wurttemberg (the AMSEL), in 2018 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Consortium of MS Centres (CMSC) and in 2017 John Dystel Prize for Multiple Sclerosis Research from the American Academy of Neurology National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (USA).