Following completing a BSc in Zoology in 1983, he performed post-graduate studies at the Royal College of Surgeons of England on immune tolerance and delayed hypersensitivity responses in the skin and obtained a PhD in 1987. Following the award of Angela Limerick Lectureship to study multiple sclerosis (MS), he turned his attention to delayed hypersensitivity responses in the brain. He developed a novel relapsing model of multiple sclerosis. Although his interests have varied over time, his focus has been on control of neuroimmunological disease and its translational relevance to MS and has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers.
His early career focused on genetics; T cell biology, neuroimmunology and blood brain barrier function to name a few examples. In 1994 he became the first ever recipient of a Multiple Sclerosis Society UK Senior fellowship and moved to the Institute of Ophthalmology to develop ocular models of central nervous system autoimmunity. There his group uncovered the first experimental evidence for symptomatic benefit of cannabis and cannabinoids in the control of spasticity. This work led to the development of cannabis-based licensed medicines for treatment of spasticity in MS. His research has focussed development of agents to treat symptoms and promote neuroprotection. He moved to the Institute of Neurology, University College London in 1999 to continue his work on spasticity. He founded a University spin-out company in 2005 to develop his intellectual property. The drug recently completed phase II studies in MS, with results expected in 2017. Having become adept at controlling the peripheral immune response, he used this knowledge to 3Rs “refined” EAE models and created secondary progressive MS models to target studies towards neuroprotection. In 2006 he teamed up with Professor Gavin Giovannoni and moved to Queen Mary University of London, to lead the pre-clinical part of a translational neuroscience team. In addition to trials on symptom control, the team have recently translated some neuroprotection studies from animals into human. The team have also embraced public engagement of science to run a MS research blog (www.ms-res.org).