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Scientific Achievement in Neurology Award

Professor Alastair Compston 
DAS Compston MBBS (Hons) PhD FRCP (London) FRSA FMedSci  FIBiol

Alastair Compston is Professor of Neurology and Head of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences in the University of Cambridge and co-chair of Cambridge Neuroscience.

He trained in neurology at the National Hospital and the Institute of Neurology, Queen Square after graduating from the Middlesex Hospital Medical School with 1st class honours. 

He is an outstanding Editor of Brain, a past president of the European Neurological Society and of the Association of British Neurologists and past chairman of the Neurosciences and Mental Health Panel of the Wellcome Trust.

Arguably one of the most respected and capable clinician scientists of his generation, his research has focused on the clinical science of  demyelinating disease with contributions to the genetic epidemiology, immunology and neurobiology, and treatment and repair of multiple sclerosis. In all areas he has contributed substantially to the knowledge base with 335 original articles and research letters.  Most notably, with Stephen Sawcer he established the GAMES consortium and went on to develop a worldwide consortium aided by two North American groups leading to the 2011 Nature publication involving almost 10,000 PwMS and over 17,000 controls which expanded the known MS susceptibility loci to 57 and which overwhelmingly implicated T cell driven immunity in the pathogenesis of MS.

In MS therapy he was crucial with Alisdair Coles in using Alemtuzumab and showing that in relatively early MS, relapse activity and progression could be prevented and disability improved by lymphocyte ablation even though in more established MS progressive disability continued despite relapse activity being terminated. Both these observations are now critical to the current approach to MS treatment. In both the Genome Wide Association Screen and Alemtuzumab initiatives colleagues have said these would not have happened without Alistair Compston.  

His incisive mind, broad experience, clarity of expression and quiet courteous manner underlie his ability to gather first class colleagues and key collaborative groupings from around the world to aid his many successful achievements.

His work has been recognised by international awards: the Sobek Prize (2002), the Charcot Award (2007), the Zulch Prize (2010), the McDonald Award (2011) and now the World Federation of Neurology Medal for Scientific Achievement in Neurology (2013).

When the history of the solution to MS is finally written Alistair Compston will figure as a principal contributor.


Citation by W M Carroll, September 2013 on presenting an award for scientific achievement in neurology at the WCN2013, Vienna.




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