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Ageing themes

The Ageing Brain


King’s is a centre of excellence for research on neuroscience, and the ageing brain. Our active grant income of £96m supports 420 post-doctoral scientists and 130 PhD students.

The Institure of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience is Europe's largest academic community devoted to the study and prevention of mental health problems. Researchers at the Institute work closely with clinical colleagues at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust and King’s College Hospital Trust.

Within the Institute there are a large number of research programs on the ageing brain, and the excellence of the research is being recognised by further substantial funding streamsKing’s is now one of five leading universities to have received funding as part of a new UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI). King’s DRI centre is headed by Prof. Chris Shaw and based at the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute

The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience and its NHS Trust partners also recently won funding from the National Institute for Health Research to set up a Biomedical Centre of Excellence. The NIHR Mental Health Biomedical Research Centre and Dementia Biomedical Research Unit was established in 2007 and is headed by Professor Matthew Hotopf and Professor Clive Ballard.


Professor Clive Ballard at the Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases heads the Neurodegeneration & Clinical Trials group aimed at both understanding the molecular basis of disease, and discovering effective novel therapies.

Other groups in the Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases research ways of restoring function (headed by Professor Steve McMahon) and understanding the mechanisms of receptors and signalling such as are involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

We have the Department of Developmental Neurobiology, comprising 23 different laboratories and headed by Professor Andrew Lumsden, FRS. The Department has expertise with a variety of model organisms and hosts a number of principal investigators with specific interests in, for example, neuroendocrine control of ageing (Ch’ng), actin dynamics underlying neurodegeneration and molecular basis of neuronal connectivity (Meyer, Ng).

In the department of Basic and Clinical Neuroscience, at the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute, groups are researching fundamental and translational facets of neurological and psychiatric disorders for which many aspects concern brain ageing.

Research groups


Professor Jonathan Corcoran, Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases

Professor Corcoran is interested in the role of nuclear receptor signaling in the maintenance and regeneration of the nervous system with a particular focus on the role of the retinoid signaling pathway in neurodegenerative diseases. Read more about Professor Corcoran.

Professor Pat Doherty, Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases

Professor Doherty has recently published on a dramatic age-dependent reduction in neurogenesis in the adult sub-ventricular zone. This can be restored by treatment with a variety of dugs that activate the CB2 cannabinoid receptor. Current studies aim to determine the underlying cause of the decline in neurogenesis, as well as optimise drug treatment paradigms to prevent it. Read more about Professor Doherty.

Professor Paul Francis, Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases

Professor Francis’ research interests are the biochemical correlates of cognitive and behavioural symptoms in people with dementia, and animal and cellular models of dementia for discovery of new treatments and biomarkers. Read more about Professor Francis.

Dr Lawrence Moon, Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases

Stroke is an age-related disease which disables many people. Dr Moon's long-term research goal is to identify and test novel strategies for promoting recovery after CNS injuries including stroke. Gene profiling studies and gene therapy approaches are used to identify novel potential therapies. He also uses aged rat models of stroke to test novel therapeutic strategies in vivoRead more about Dr Moon.

Professor Annalisa Pastore, Department of Basic and Clinical Neuroscience

Professor Annalisa Pastore research interest is in understanding the molecular basis of neurodegenerative diseases. In this attempt, her lab group study the structure, fold stability, and function of proteins involved in diseases using different but complementary biophysical, biochemical and systems biology approaches. They study the connection between normal function and disease to eventually develop therapeutic interventions. Read more here.

Professor Chris Shaw, Department of Basic and Clinical Neuroscience & 
The Dementia Research Institute Centre at King's

Prof Chris Shaw's research team seek to understand what causes amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as motor neuron disease, MND) and fronto-temporal dementia (FTD) with the aim of finding more effective therapies.

ALS causes muscular paralysis due the degeneration of motor neurons in the spinal cord. FTD causes distressing changes in personality, behavioural and language. Both are relentless in their progression and no treatments dramatically alter the disease course. For more information about Prof Shaw's research, please read more here.

Dr Sandrine Thuret, Department of Basic and Clinical Neuroscience

The central theme of the Thuret lab is adult neurogenesis, which is the new concept of the adult human brain being able to produce new nerve cells derived from stem cells in the hippocampus. We have shown that adult hippocampal neurogenesis (AHN) is implicated in memory formation and mood regulation. In my lab, we now investigate environmental and molecular regulatory mechanisms controlling AHN.

We study AHN (i) in a healthy context - such as the effect of diet or the changes occurring upon healthy ageing but also (ii) in the context of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Depressive disorders.

By approaching AHN in health & disease, the strategy is twofold: (i) validating AHN as a target for prevention and pharmacological interventions, as well as (ii) developing AHN as a biomarker of disease prediction and progression.

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