Ian Galea is a Professor of Clinical and Experimental Neurology, within Medicine at the University of Southampton. He leads the Southampton Clinical and Experimental Neurology Team (SCENT), a multidisciplinary group of investigators studying inflammatory and haemorrhagic brain conditions. The team has laboratory expertise in cell culture, immunochemistry, molecular techniques and preclinical models, and clinical translational expertise in clinical assessment, diagnostic assays and neuroimaging. Bench-to-bedside science is translated to patient benefit.
His research concerns the brain’s immune system, and its response to infections, inflammation and haemorrhage, with implications for diseases such as multiple sclerosis and subarachnoid haemorrhage. As a clinician scientist he works across clinical and laboratory areas. He is a consultant neurologist with a specialist interest in neuroinflammatory disease. In his early scientific career, he studied cerebral perivascular macrophages at the blood-brain barrier and described a novel pathway of CD8 T cell entry into the brain. This formed the basis for his post-doctoral work, during which he studied the haemoglobin-scavenging system in the brain after subarachnoid haemorrhage and CD8 T cell-mediated brain disease. He was appointed to his current post in 2013.
- Brain haemorrhage: pathophysiology
- Blood-brain barrier and immune-brain signalling
- Multiple sclerosis
- Subarachnoid haemorrhage
SCENT is interested in brain inflammation and the blood-brain barrier, with clinical relevance in two main disease areas: inflammatory and haemorrhagic brain conditions. The main aim is to improve patient lives after central nervous system disease by developing novel monitoring tools, outcome prediction algorithms and treatments. The team studies the molecular and cell biology of the interaction between blood and brain, in conditions such as subarachnoid haemorrhage and multiple sclerosis. Work is performed closely with patients in clinical studies to confirm the identity of key pathways that have treatment potential.
"During neurological disease, brain tissue including vessels and blood within are destroyed, leading to inflammation, release of haemoglobin and blood-brain barrier compromise. This gets worse when there is infection and inflammation outside the brain. We study these pathological processes across a range of neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and brain haemorrhage."
The blood brain-barrier represents the interface between the brain and the circulation. In the normal healthy brain, systemic inflammation signals across the blood-brain barrier leading to changes in the brain itself. This effect is more marked in the presence of inflammatory brain diseases, the commonest of which is multiple sclerosis. The team studies the interplay between brain, blood and inflammation in health and disease, in order to be able to predict, prevent and treat brain inflammation.
During brain haemorrhage there is a catastrophic breach in the blood-brain barrier. Blood is released into the brain, forming a clot. Unlike the rest of the body, the brain has a limited ability to deal with extravasated blood. As the blood clot degenerates, it leads to a local buildup of toxic substances. The team studies the effect of blood on brain cells and how this can be treated.
Current PhD Students
Bachelor of Medicine programmes
- Lecturer on BM4 & BM5 (Neurology, Immunology)
- Subject lead, Cerebrovascular Disease, Scientific Basis of Module (SBOM)
- Examiner: Objective Structured Clinical Examination
- Bachelor in Medical Science project supervisor (1-3 / year)
- Master in Medical Science project supervisor (1-2 / year)
- Question setting
- Standard setting
- Assignment marker
- Personal academic tutor
- Student Selection Interviewer
Postgraduate taught programmes
Research project supervision on:
- MRes Clinical and Health Research
- MSc Audiology
Main PhD supervision
- Matt Morton (MRC-funded, completed)
- Charlotte Stuart (multiple source-funded, completed)
- Aravinthan Varatharaj (MRC-funded, completed)
- Ben Gaastra (Guarantors of Brain & Institute for Life Sciences-funded, ongoing)
- Hannah Warming (Gerkut Trust & Institute for Life Sciences-funded, ongoing)
Clinical academic training
- Neurology Integrated Clinical Academic Training Lead
- Academic Foundation Programme (Neuroscience) supervision
- Academic Clinical Fellow (Neuroscience) supervision
- Clinical Lecturer (Neuroscience) supervision
Ian Galea is a Consultant Neurologist and Professor in Clinical & Experimental Neurology in Southampton. He qualified as a medical doctor from the University of Malta and completed general professional training in the UK. He then trained in basic neuroimmunology completing a PhD with Professor Hugh Perry, alongside neurology specialist training in the Wessex region. During his postdoctoral years he worked on the blood-brain barrier, making seminal observations in subarachnoid haemorrhage, paraneoplastic neurological disease and multiple sclerosis. He founded an international consortium of investigators in subarachnoid haemorrhage which is led from Southampton, and more recently a national consortium studying the neurology of covid. He has published papers in top journals such as Brain, Neurology, Annals of Neurology, J Exp Med, BMJ, Nature Reviews and the Lancet family. Several research papers have been selected for editorial comment and won prizes. Ian is on the steering committee of several national studies, the editorial board of Brain Behaviour Immunity and is NIHR Regional Multiple Sclerosis Specialty Lead. In Southampton, he actively champions imaging research and clinical academic training.