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Prof Sarah Tabrizi
Huntington’s Disease Centre and Department of Neurodegenerative Disease
UCL Institute of Neurology
Box 104, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery Queen Square
Prof Sarah Tabrizi profile picture
  • Joint Head of Department of Neurodegenerative Disease
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases
  • UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
  • Faculty of Brain Sciences

Sarah graduated with First class honours in biochemistry, then studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1992 where she graduated with the Gold Medal for top student. She has worked on research into neurodegenerative diseases since her PhD as an MRC clinical training fellow at UCL. After clinical training, she obtained a DH National Clinician Scientist Fellowship in 2002 to work on protein misfolding at UCL. She was promoted to Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Neurologist in 2003, and to Full Professor in 2009. Sarah is Director of the UCL Huntington’s Disease Centre, which she co-founded with Professor Gill Bates in 2016, and Joint Head of Department Neurodegenerative Disease at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology.

In addition to basic bench science, which focuses on basic cellular mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Huntington’s disease (HD), she also leads a large translational research programme in HD that is working towards finding effective disease-modifying treatments.  Sarah has published over350 peer-reviewed publications to date and her research work has been the subject of articles in NEJM, The Economist, Scientific American, and The Lancet.  She serves on several expert panels including for the UK HD association, the European HD Network, NINDS/NIH, and the MRC Nucleic Acid Therapies Accelerator Board. Sarah co-founded the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for HD in 2010, and was elected a Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences in 2014. In 2017 she received the seventh Leslie Gehry Brenner Prize for Innovation in Science awarded by the Hereditary Disease Foundation. In 2018 she was appointed as a Principal Investigator at the UK Dementia Research Institute Hub, and received the Cotzias Award from the Spanish Society of Neurology. In 2019 she received the Yahr Award at the World Congress for Neurology and the Alexander Morison Medal from the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. In 2022, she received the Osler Medal from the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland, and the MRC Millennium Medal for her outstanding achievements in medical research.

Research Groups
Research Themes
Research Summary

At UCL’s Queen Square Institute of Neurology, Sarah leads a synergistic research programme in neurodegeneration from basic cellular mechanisms of protein misfolding to translational clinical research. Sarah has had a major research interest in Huntington’s disease (HD) since her PhD, and Sarah’s team is spearheading a major effort to develop and test new disease-modifying therapies for HD. Her work has identified a key role for the innate immune system in the pathogenesis of Huntington’s disease, we published the first assay of the mutant HD protein in human blood cells. Sarah designed and led two major, international, influential research initiatives, TRACK-HD and Track-On HD. To date these studies have yielded fundamental new insights into the preclinical phase of neurodegeneration in Huntington’s disease including identifying predictors of disease onset, progression, evidence of brain compensation and plasticity and neurobiological changes occurring twenty years before predicted disease onset, and her work established a battery of clinical trial outcome measures.  Her recent research has identified an important new genetic modifier of disease progression in Huntington’s disease, which has opened up new avenues of research into targeting DNA repair pathways as possible therapeutics for Huntington’s disease. 

Sarah was global clinical PI on the world’s first successful phase 1/2b trial of an ASO for HD (NEJM 2019) and serves on several Scientific Advisory Boards for industry developing gene targeting and nucleic acid therapies for HD.

Sarah's research programme is translating HD research directly from the lab to patients with the aim of preventing the neurodegenerative process in HD.

Teaching Summary

Since 2003, Sarah has supervised 31 PhD students to completion. Sarah teaches on the MSc Clinical Neuroscience, MSc advanced NeuroImaging, MSc Dementia, MRes Translational Neurology and the MSc Clinical Neurology courses at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology. She also teaches on the MSc in Neuroscience at UCL. She regularly teaches on the Expert teaching Short Courses run by the UCL Institute of Neurology; Movement Disorders Society, European Academy of Neurology, and the Federation of European Neuroscience Teaching courses. At UCLH Trust, she teaches undergraduate and postgraduate medical trainees on Neuroscience, Neurogenetics and Neurology. Her main teaching areas are in Neurogenetics, Huntington’s disease, and other inherited Neurodegenerative disorders.

OCT-2009 Professor of Clinical Neurology & Neurogenetics Department of Neurodegenerative Disease Institute of Neurology, Univeristy College London, United Kingdom
2007 – 2009 Reader inNeurology & Neurogenetics Department of Neurodegenerative Disease Institute of Neurology, UCL, United Kingdom
01-JAN-2003 – 01-FEB-2007 Clinical Senior Lecturer UK Department of Health National Clinician Scientist  , United Kingdom
01-FEB-2001 – 31-JAN-2002 Neurology Specialist Registrar Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN) Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, United Kingdom
01-APR-1999 – 31-JAN-2001 Neurology Specialist Registrar   The Royal Free Hospital, United Kingdom
01-APR-1996 – 31-MAR-1999 MRC Clinical Training Fellow for PhD Department of Clinical Neurosciences The Royal Free & University College School of Medicine, United Kingdom
Academic Background
2007   Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians Royal College of Physicians
2000   Doctor of Philosophy University College London
1995   Member of the Royal College of Physicians Royal College of Physicians
1992   Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery University of Edinburgh
1986   Bachelor of Science (Honours) Heriot-Watt University
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