Professor Richard Nicholas - Director of the MS Society Tissue Bank
Richard Nicholas is Professor of Practice in the Department of Brain Sciences at Imperial College London. He works in clinical trials in MS that have included: experimental therapies such as autologous haemopoetic stem transplant (AHSCT) group & mesenchymal stem cells, repurposed treatments for MS, machine learning and advanced imaging techniques at Imperial College and the Institute of Ophthalmology, Univeristy College London. He is Director of the MS Society Tissue Bank and is also the clinical lead of the UK MS Register based at Swansea University, an online portal where over 20,000 MS patients have completed patient-reported outcomes that integrate with their NHS profile. Prof. Nicholas leads the digital development of the Tissue Bank.
Professor Steve Gentleman - Director of the Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank
Steve Gentleman is Professor of Neuropathology in the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London. Over the past 20 years he has run an active research team investigating the pathology of neurodegenerative disease and traumatic brain injury. In more recent years he has been part of a European consortium of neuropathologists who have been working to standardise the diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases. Using this expertise he provides diagnostic support for the Parkinson’s UK and Multiple Sclerosis Society Tissue Banks at Imperial and is a member of the Medical Research Council Brain Bank Network management committee. In addition to his research interests Steve has key teaching roles in the faculty of Medicine.
Dr Javier Alegre Abarrategui - Director of Neuropathology
Javier Alegre-Abarrategui is Director of Neuropathology of the MS and Parkinson's Tissue Bank at Imperial College as well as a Senior Clinical Lecturer in Neuropathology at the Department of Brain Sciences and a Consultant Neuropathologist at Charing Cross Hospital. He is researching genetically-defined forms of Parkinson's, the use of human genomic constructs for animal and in vitro functional modelling and autophagy. Javier has pioneered the development of novel tools to detect in situ early protein aggregates such as alpha-synuclein oligomers in human brain and has started to apply these tools to the dissection of the initial pathogenic processes in Parkinson's and Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr George Gverich - Tissue Bank Manager
George has been a manager of the Tissue Bank since 2008. Before coming to Imperial he worked at the Institute of Neurology, London where he got involved with brain banking through the Institute's MS Society Tissue Bank. He was also part of a research group looking into the role of proteolytic enzymes in multiple sclerosis. George is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Tissue Bank, with a focus on tissue supply to researchers.
Ms Sashika Selvackadunco - Tissue Bank Administrator
Sashika joined the Multiple Sclerosis Tissue Bank as Administrator in November 2020 from King's College. As an administrator, Sashika is the nerve centre of the Brain Bank. She is the first point of contact for the queries and requests from potential donors and families. Sashika deals with donor packs, registrations, amendments, paperwork, placing orders for office and laboratory supplies, as well as invoices from GPs, mortuaries and funeral directors.
Mr Ville Pitkaaho - Research Nurse
Ville joined the Brain Tissue Bank after working as a research nurse in the field of cancer treatment and research. He has over 5 years of experience in neurology and intensive care and has worked for major teaching hospitals both in the UK and his native Finland. He is now responsible for organising tissue retrievals, preparing clinical summaries and providing feedback to the next-of-kin and family on neuropathological findings. He is also tasked with promoting and organising donor recruitment and focuses on the new long term recruitment strategy of specific patient groups.
Tissue Bank Technicians
The technical team currently consists of five technicians who deal with all aspects of tissue banking:
- Ms Ildiko Farkas
- Miss Marcia Texeira Curtinha
- Ms Marta Garcia Camba
- Miss Amy-Sophia Richards
Our on-call team is a foundation of our pledge to donors to make the Tissue Bank accessible every day of the year. A team of three people (one coordinator and two assistants) is always on-call to help with organising all aspects of tissue donation and preservation. Our current team consists of the following individuals:
- Coordinators: Professor Steve Gentleman, Dr George Gverich, Ms Sashika Selvackadunco and Mr Ville Pitkaaho
- Assistants: Miss Shivani Patel, Miss Aisling McGarry, Miss Elisavet Valentza Almpani and Mr Calum Muirhead
All parts of the operation of the Tissue Bank that require clinical neurology expertise receive input from a team of experts responsible for either the MS or Parkinson's side of the operation. We would like to acknowledge the neurologists who help the tissue bank by generating clinical summaries for donated tissue: Professor Lefkos Middleton, Dr Andreas Roussakis, Dr Claudio Ruffman and Dr Richard Nicholas.
Neuropathological assessment of tissue is a cornerstone of our quality assurance and provides a valuable feedback to relatives of our donors. The Tissue Bank is indebted to neuropathologists without whose advice and expertise we would not be able to provide tissue for research: Dr javier Alegre Abbarrategui. Dr Clara Limback-Stanic, Professor Federico Roncaroli, Professor Steve Gentleman and Professor Johannes Attems.