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The University of Southampton

Dr Aravinthan Varatharaj BMBCh MA(Oxon) PhD PGCME MRCP

NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Neurology

Dr Aravinthan Varatharaj's photo

Thinking inside and outside the brain

Aravinthan Varatharaj is the NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Neurology at the University of Southampton. He studies the interaction between infection and the brain, and in particular how this affects people with multiple sclerosis. He uses advanced neuroimaging techniques and has set up dynamic-contrast enhanced magnetic resonance imaging in Southampton for the measurement of blood-brain barrier health. Disturbance of the blood-brain barrier may explain why infections outside the brain can affect the function of the brain and mind.

Dr Varatharaj studied medicine at Oxford and has trained in Montreal, Liverpool, and London. He came to Southampton in 2014.


Research interests

  • The interaction of systemic infection with the brain, especially in the context of neurological disease such as multiple sclerosis.
  • Advanced neuroimaging, in particular measurement of blood-brain barrier permeability.
  • Neurological complications of COVID-19.

MPhil/PhD research:

Systemic Infections in Multiple Sclerosis’, funded by the MRC and supervised by Professor Ian Galea, Professor Hugh Perry, Dr Angela Darekar, and Dr Mary Gawne-Cain.

Research projects:

Dr Varatharaj is Chief Investigator for the MRC-funded SIBIMS study, which is examining the effect of systemic infection in people with multiple sclerosis, and the role of the blood-brain barrier in this interaction. He is also a founder of the CoroNerve Studies Group which is coordinating national surveillance for neurological complications of COVID-19.

Research group

Clinical and Experimental Sciences

Affiliate research groups

Clinical Neuroscience Research group, Southampton Clinical and Experimental Neurology Team, Computational Modelling Group, Functional Imaging Unit, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen , MRI Physics Group, University Hospital Southampton

  • Peer reviewer for neurology and imaging journals.
  • Medical advisor to Headway, the brain injury charity.
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  • Personal Academic Tutor for medical students.
  • Co-ordinator for the clinical component of undergraduate neurology teaching.
  • Medical school interviews and marking for BM Finals and BMedSci.
  • Volunteer tutor for the Access Project
Dr Aravinthan Varatharaj
Faculty of Medicine, Room AB215, Mailpoint 801, South Academic Block, University Hospital Southampton, Tremona Road, Southampton, SO16 6YD

Room Number : SGH/LD83/MP801

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