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Doctor Aravinthan Varatharaj

Dr Aravinthan Varatharaj

Associate Professor in Neurology

Accepting applications from PhD students.

Connect with Aravinthan


I am a clinical academic neurologist with a subspecialist interest in multiple sclerosis. My clinical practice is based at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

My research interests include:

  • The impact of systemic infection on the brain, in particular how this affects people with neurological diseases. Systemic infections are the most common cause of hospital admission for people with neurological disease and are associated with poor outcomes. I am the Chief Investigator of the MRC-funded SIBIMS study which is looking at multiple sclerosis in particular.
  • Blood-brain barrier (BBB) health, and its measurement for research and clinical use with dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI, which I set up in Southampton. BBB disruption may explain how systemic infection and inflammation affects brain function. This technique can also help guide treatments for multiple sclerosis and I am exploring this in the EQUANIMS study, in collaboration with the Institute for Medical Imaging and Visualisation at Bournemouth University. In the PEBBAL study we are investigating use in Alzheimer's disease. Meanwhile in the upcoming SUNLIGHT study I will be testing if we can use this for people with traumatic brain injury (supported by Ferblanc).
  • Neurological complications of COVID-19. I co-founded the CoroNerve Studies Group which led the first nationwide surveillance programme for neurological complications of COVID-19.


I am also interested in how medicine, particularly neurology, is represented in literature. I have written on the works of Graham Greene, and Ian Fleming, and appeared on BBC Radio 4 discussing Arthur Conan Doyle.