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Dr Axel Petzold
  • Honorary Associate Professor
  • UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
  • Faculty of Brain Sciences

I graduated from the Medical University of Freiburg (Germany). I received my MD (summa cum laude) in Experimental Ophthalmology with Ted Sharpe (University of Freiburg) and my PhD in Biochemistry with Ed Thompson (University College London). I trained as a neurologist in France (Lyon), Germany (Munich) and the United Kingdom (London).

I am employed as a consultant neurologist jointly by Moorfields Eye Hospital (MEH), City Road and The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (UCLH NHNN), Queen Square, London, UK.

I am also employed as a consultant neurologist jointly by the Departments of Neurology and Ophthalmology at the Amsterdam University Medical Centre (AUMC) where I am the Director of the Dutch Expertise Centre for Neuro-ophthalmology.

I am the chairman for neuro-ophthalmology of the European Reference Networks (ERN) for Rare Diseases (RD), ERN-EYE (www.ern-eye.eu).

I am an honorary Senior Lecturer at the Department of Molecular Neurosciences,  UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, UK.

My primary research interest is on the recognition, prevention and treatment of axonal degeneration in optic neuropathies. The disease spectrum covers Multiple Sclerosis associated Optic Neuritis (MSON) and those optic neuropathies which are considered a rare disease.

I am also interested in other diseases and models I can learn from and contribute facilitating research in these areas.

Research Themes
Research Summary

Neuronal death and axonal degeneration are the key pathological processes disrupting the function of the nervous system. In contrast to demyelination and conduction block, axonal degeneration in the CNS is frequently irreversible and therefore a major cause of permanent disability. My research is focused on the detection, quantification and monitoring of neuronal cell death and axonal degeneration in vivo and in vitro.

The methods I originally developed and now use are based on biomarkers as a surrogate for neuronal death and axonal degeneration. These biomarkers are not only a potentially powerful secondary outcome measure for clinical treatment trials, but also a valuable tool in basic science.

I have used body fluid biomarkers to investigate the dynamics and prognostic value of neuronal death and axonal degeneration in a number of acute and chronic diseases: optic neuritis and other optic neuropathies, multiple sclerosis, neuromyelitis optica, subarachnoid haemorrhage, ischaemic stroke, traumatic brain injury, Guillain-Barré syndrome, West Nile Virus infection, encephalitis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multi-system atrophy, cortico-basal degeneration, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, fronto-temporal lobe dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Teaching Summary

In my role in the Department I have (co-)supervised 10 UCL students:

  1. Mr J Sen "Extracellular fluid surrogate markers in acute brain injury: a longitudinal microdialysis study" MSc 2002. The project received a distinction and Mr Sen is now Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, University of Nottingham.
  2. Ms C Maduakor "Intracerebral microdialysis of S100B and nitric oxide metabolites: clinico-pathological correlations in traumatic brain injury" MSc 2003. The project received a distinction.
  3. Mr R Afinofi "In vivo biomarker recovery study of 20 & 100 kDa cut-off cerebral microdialysis catheters". MSc 2004.
  4. Dr ET Lim "Search for potential surrogate markers in neuroinflammatory disorders, in particular multiple sclerosis" MD 2005. Now Consultant Neurologist.
  5. Ms S McLernon "Cross-validation of methods for quantification of biomarkers in neurocritical care" MSc 2006. Ms McLernon is now a Senior Lecturer (Neuroscience) for Post-Registration Nursing at Imperial College London.
  6. Mr M Tisdall "Non-invasive optical measurement of cerebral oxygenation, perfusion and cellular energy status: an opportunity to identify windows for targeted neuroprotection in traumatic brain injury?". MD 2009 (UCL). Now Consultant Neurosurgeon at GOS.
  7. Mr A Tarnaris "Biomarkers in idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus" MD (in progress). Now locum Consultant Neurosurgeon at the NHNN.
  8. Mr A Patel "Biochemical markers of acute stroke and their correlation with physiolgocial variables” MSc 2006.
  9. Mr Kolias "Extracellular fluid glial biomarkers" MSc (2007). Mr Costas continued this research line at Cambridge where he completed his PhD in 2013. Now an Academic Consultant Neuro-surgeon at Addenbrooks, Cambridge.
  10. Dr Ching-Hua Lu “Disease biomarkers in a SOD1-G93A mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and their translational potential in human disease”. PhD 2013 (UCL). Dr Lu is now a consultant neurologist in Taipee.
  Consultant Neurologist Neuro-Ophthalmology Moorfields Eye Hospital & UCLH NHNN, United Kingdom
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