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BSMS > About BSMS > Contact us > Staff > Professor P Nigel Leigh

Professor P Nigel Leigh

Nigel Leigh in the CISC control room

Professor P Nigel Leigh (BSc PhD MB BS PhD FRCP FAAN FMedSci)

Professor of Neurology
Location: Trafford Centre for Medical Research, Room 205, BSMS, University of Sussex, BN1 9RY

DA: Pat Butler

T: +44 (0)1273 876768

Areas of expertise: Clinical Neurology and Neurosciences

Research areas: Motor Neuron Disorders; Neurodegenerative disorders; Clinical trial design

Other relevant positions: Professor Emeritus, Kings College London, Scientific Co-Chair, Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Research Strategy Committee; Chair, PSP Association Research Committee

Preferred gender pronouns: He, his, him


After training in general medicine and neurology at the London Hospital, The Hammersmith Hospital, and University College Hospital, he spent 2 years as Lecturer in Medicine and Neurology Specialist at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He completed his PhD with Professor David Marsden FRS at the Institute of Psychiatry, London, and was appointed to the University Chair of Neurology at The Institute of Psychiatry and King’s College School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1989. The King’s Motor Neuron Disease (MND/ALS) Care and Research Centre was inaugurated in 1995. He has received The Forbes Norris Award of the International Alliance of MND/ALS Associations, the Erb-Duchenne Prize of the German Neuromuscular Society, and The Sheila Essey Prize of the American Academy of Neurology. Since 2003 he has been a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. After retiring from KCL in 2010, he was appointed Professor of Neurology at Brighton and Sussex Medical School in 2011. He remains an Emeritus Professor at King’s College London and is currently Honorary Consultant Neurologist at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust and Director of the Sussex MND Care and Research Network. His research continues to focus on the causes, mechanisms, and treatment of MND, PSP, and related neurodegenerative disorders.


His research focuses on the causation, mechanisms, clinical consequences, and treatment of motor neuron disease/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (MND/ALS) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and related disorders. His strategy is collaborative within Brighton and Sussex, nationally, and internationally. Within the Universities, collaborations include with Professor Mara Cercignani and colleagues (CISC) for novel MRI techniques (e.g., references 4 and 5); with Professor Majid Hafezparast (Life Sciences, University of Sussex) and Professor Sarah Newbury (BSMS) for work on non-coding(nc)RNAs (e.g. reference 3); with colleagues in many other Centres nationally and internationally for neurogenetics (e.g., references 1, 7 and 9), and clinical trials (e.g., references 2,6 and 10). At present, with funding from the MND Association and the MyName5Doddie Foundation, the RNA research team is analysing ncRNAs as biomarkers for state and trait in ALS and PSP. Imaging projects focus on applying novel MRI techniques to spinal pathology (Dr Andrew Barritt, CISC) and identifying relationships between MRI changes and biomarker responses in ALS in patients who have participated in the MIROCALS (; trial. MIROCALS (Modifying Immune Responses and Outcomes in ALS) is a clinical trial of low dose interleukin-2 in ALS, funded through the EU H2020 programme (2015-21). Professor Leigh is co-coordinator and Chief Investigator. MIROCALS is an ambitious ‘experimental medicine’ programme involving 17 clinical Centres in UK and France, and 12 partners in UK, Ireland, France, Italy and Sweden and incorporating extensive biomarker studies on blood and CSF, with a ‘nested’ cohort of patients having ancillary MRI studies. The results of the clinical trial will be available before the end of 2021.


Nigel's role is mainly that of research professor but he regularly teaches neurology trainees on the wards and supervises and mentors junior researchers and supervises postgraduate students. 

Selected publications

Jabbari E, Koga S, Valentino RR, Reynolds RH, Ferrari R, Tan MMX, Rowe JB,Dalgard CL, Scholz SW, Dickson DW, Warner TT, Revesz T, Höglinger GU, Ross OA,Ryten M, Hardy J, Shoai M, Morris HR; PSP Genetics Group. Genetic determinantsof survival in progressive supranuclear palsy: a genome-wide association study.Lancet Neurol. 2021 Feb;20(2):107-116. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(20)30394-X. Epub2020 Dec 17. PMID: 33341150; PMCID: PMC7116626.

Camu W, Mickunas M, Veyrune JL, Payan C, Garlanda C, Locati M, Juntas-MoralesR, Pageot N, Malaspina A, Andreasson U, Kirby J, Suehs C, Saker S, Masseguin C,De Vos J, Zetterberg H, Shaw PJ, Al-Chalabi A, Leigh PN, Tree T, Bensimon G.Repeated 5-day cycles of low dose aldesleukin in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis(IMODALS): A phase 2a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.EBioMedicine. 2020 Sep;59:102844. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2020.102844. Epub 2020Jul 7. PMID: 32651161; PMCID: PMC7502670.

Joilin G, Gray E, Thompson AG, Bobeva Y, Talbot K, Weishaupt J, Ludolph A,Malaspina A, Leigh PN, Newbury SF, Turner MR, Hafezparast M. Identification of apotential non-coding RNA biomarker signature for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.Brain Commun. 2020;2(1):fcaa053. doi: 10.1093/braincomms/fcaa053. Epub 2020 Jun17. PMID: 32613197; PMCID: PMC7329382.

Gabel MC, Broad RJ, Young AL, Abrahams S, Bastin ME, Menke RAL, Al-Chalabi A,Goldstein LH, Tsermentseli S, Alexander DC, Turner MR, Leigh PN, Cercignani M.Evolution of white matter damage in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Ann ClinTransl Neurol. 2020 May;7(5):722-732. doi: 10.1002/acn3.51035. Epub 2020 May 4.PMID: 32367696; PMCID: PMC7261765.

Broad RJ, Gabel MC, Dowell NG, Schwartzman DJ, Seth AK, Zhang H, AlexanderDC, Cercignani M, Leigh PN. Neurite orientation and dispersion density imaging(NODDI) detects cortical and corticospinal tract degeneration in ALS. J NeurolNeurosurg Psychiatry. 2019 Apr;90(4):404-411. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2018-318830.Epub 2018 Oct 25. PMID: 30361295; PMCID: PMC6581155.

Fang T, Al Khleifat A, Meurgey JH, Jones A, Leigh PN, Bensimon G, Al-ChalabiA. Stage at which riluzole treatment prolongs survival in patients withamyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a retrospective analysis of data from a dose-ranging study. Lancet Neurol. 2018 May;17(5):416-422. doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(18)30054-1. Epub 2018 Mar 7. PMID: 29525492; PMCID:PMC5899963.

Kenna KP, van Doormaal PT, Dekker AM, Ticozzi N, Kenna BJ, Diekstra FP, vanRheenen W, van Eijk KR, Jones AR, Keagle P, Shatunov A, Sproviero W, Smith BN,van Es MA, Topp SD, Kenna A, Miller JW, Fallini C, Tiloca C, McLaughlin RL,Vance C, Troakes C, Colombrita C, Mora G, Calvo A, Verde F, Al-Sarraj S, King A,Calini D, de Belleroche J, Baas F, van der Kooi AJ, de Visser M, Ten Asbroek AL,Sapp PC, McKenna-Yasek D, Polak M, Asress S, Muñoz-Blanco JL, Strom TM,Meitinger T, Morrison KE; SLAGEN Consortium, Lauria G, Williams KL, Leigh PN,Nicholson GA, Blair IP, Leblond CS, Dion PA, Rouleau GA, Pall H, Shaw PJ, TurnerMR, Talbot K, Taroni F, Boylan KB, Van Blitterswijk M, Rademakers R, Esteban-Pérez J, García-Redondo A, Van Damme P, Robberecht W, Chio A, Gellera C, DrepperC, Sendtner M, Ratti A, Glass JD, Mora JS, Basak NA, Hardiman O, Ludolph AC,Andersen PM, Weishaupt JH, Brown RH Jr, Al-Chalabi A, Silani V, Shaw CE, van denBerg LH, Veldink JH, Landers JE. NEK1 variants confer susceptibility toamyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Nat Genet. 2016 Sep;48(9):1037-42. doi:10.1038/ng.3626. Epub 2016 Jul 25. PMID: 27455347; PMCID: PMC5560030.

Wijesekera LC, Mathers S, Talman P, Galtrey C, Parkinson MH, Ganesalingam J,Willey E, Ampong MA, Ellis CM, Shaw CE, Al-Chalabi A, Leigh PN. Natural historyand clinical features of the flail arm and flail leg ALS variants. Neurology.2009 Mar 24;72(12):1087-94. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000345041.83406.a2. PMID:19307543; PMCID: PMC2821838.

Vance C, Rogelj B, Hortobágyi T, De Vos KJ, Nishimura AL, Sreedharan J, HuX, Smith B, Ruddy D, Wright P, Ganesalingam J, Williams KL, Tripathi V, Al-SarajS, Al-Chalabi A, Leigh PN, Blair IP, Nicholson G, de Belleroche J, Gallo JM,Miller CC, Shaw CE. Mutations in FUS, an RNA processing protein, cause familialamyotrophic lateral sclerosis type 6. Science. 2009 Feb 27;323(5918):1208-1211.doi: 10.1126/science.1165942. PMID: 19251628; PMCID: PMC4516382.

Bensimon G, Ludolph A, Agid Y, Vidailhet M, Payan C, Leigh PN; NNIPPS StudyGroup. Riluzole treatment, survival and diagnostic criteria in Parkinson plusdisorders: the NNIPPS study. Brain. 2009 Jan;132(Pt 1):156-71. doi:10.1093/brain/awn291. Epub 2008 Nov 23. PMID: 19029129; PMCID: PMC2638696.

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