Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Surgery & Cancer

Senior Lecturer



+44 (0)20 7594 7633r.dickinson




Biophysics Group, Room 403Sir Ernst Chain BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Neurotrauma & Neuroprotection Laboratory

My lab is interested in understanding the molecular pathophysiology of brain injuries such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) and stroke and in neuroprotection (preventing or limiting the spread of injury).  Currently there are no effective neuroprotective drugs that target the injury development that occurs following TBI or stroke. We have been investigating the neuroprotective efficacy of anaesthetics and inert gases such as xenon and argon. The identification of  the molecular targets of certain anaesthetics such as xenon has led to the idea of using them as treatments to prevent brain damage in conditions such as traumatic brain injury and hypoxic/ischemic injury such a neonatal asphyxia and post-cardiac arrest brain damage.  In my lab we use a variety of approaches to study the molecular actions of anaesthetics and neuroprotectants; these include patch-clamp electrophysiology, site-directed mutagenesis and models of brain injury.

Enquiries from prospective PhD,  BSc, MRes or Erasmus students are always welcome

Public Engagement

We participated in "Science Uncovered", an event for the general public at London's Natural History Museum in 2012 & 2013. Science Uncovered is the Natural History Museum’s biggest after hours event attended by 8,500 visitors and is part of an EU funded European Researcher's Day with events taking place simultaneuosly throughout Europe. Click here for a news report on the event. You can see photos of our stand.

In April 2013 we  participated in the Wonder Festival of Art & Science of the Brain at London's Barbican Centre where we showcased our neuroprotection work. The event was attended by over 5,000 visitors.  In May 2013, May 2014 & May 2016 the research group took part in the Imperial Festival in an event attended by 15,000 members of the public and alumni.

We participated in event for Imperial College Alumni & Donors, November 2014. We participated in Imperial Fringe event to launch the Imperial College Annual Report on Animal Research, February 2015.  Our lab has done an outreach activity day at Gillespie Primary School on physiology & the brain. 

Dr Dickinson worked with the innovative Lab 13 Science Lab at Gillespie Primary on a project on Manuka Honey funded by British Pharmacological Society. The pupils presented at Cheltenham Science Festival in 2015 and the project was featured in The Times, The Mail Online, Science in School and The British Society for Immunology website.

Current Group Members

PDRAs2017Dr Rita Campos Pires  Dr Phillip Aitken  Dr Jitka Aldhoun

2017 PGSLaura Abelleira                Flavia Valeo              Hazel May

2017Masters1Kate Gallagher          Maria Balaet    Amaia Cadinanos Garai

2017Masters2Joanna Saville                Paul Soumalias


PGs2013-16Scott Armstrong                 Katie Harris         Diya Malhotra

2103-16 Row2RequiredMariia Koziakova    Sarah Ceichanowicz

MREs1Amina Yonis                  Perrine Pluchon       Ala MedjadamMRes2

Ashni Pau (BSc)             Sophie Rae  (BSc)   


Group member Rita Campos Pires won the prize for best oral presentation at the Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre research event in 2015.

Scott Armstrong won the MRC Max Perutz Science Writing Award 2013 for his essay entitled "Saving the Brain from itself" which was published in the Times Higher Education.

Medical student Ashni Pau won the Evelyn de Rothschild Prize for Best BSc Project for her work on xenon neuroprotection. Ashni is seen here (second left) with other BSc Prize winners and Professor Alison McGregor (centre) Head of Year 4 Medicine.

Katie Harris won a special prize for Science Communication and second prize overall in the Graduate School Poster Competition.

Scott Armstrong won first prize in the student poster competition at The Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies launch event in October 2013. Co-author Rita Campos-Pires collected the award from Professor Sir Anthony J Newman Taylor CBE.

 Group Members 2011-12

Group members 2012

Rebecca LeVay (BSc)   Martin Evans (BSc)   Yi Ying Law (BSc)

Louise Kiru (MRes)        Wee Hong-Ang (MRes)                                

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Campos Pires R, Yonis A, Macdonald W, et al., 2018, A novel In vitro model of blast traumatic brain injury, Jove-journal of Visualized Experiments, Vol:142, ISSN:1940-087X

Campos Pires R, Koziakova M, Yonis A, et al., 2018, Xenon protects against blast-induced traumatic brain injury in an in vitro model, Journal of Neurotrauma, Vol:35, ISSN:0897-7151, Pages:1037-1044

Campos-Pires R, Edge CJ, Dickinson R, 2016, Argon: A Noble Foe for Subarachnoid Hemorrhage, Critical Care Medicine, Vol:44, ISSN:1530-0293, Pages:1456-1457

Campos-Pires R, Armstrong SP, Sebastiani A, et al., 2015, Xenon Improves Neurologic Outcome and Reduces Secondary Injury Following Trauma in an In Vivo Model of Traumatic Brain Injury, Critical Care Medicine, Vol:43, ISSN:1530-0293, Pages:149-158

Bertaccini EJ, Dickinson R, Trudell JR, et al., 2014, Molecular modeling of a tandem two pore domain potassium channel reveals a putative binding Site for general anesthetics, ACS Chemical Neuroscience, Vol:5, ISSN:1948-7193, Pages:1246-1252

Harris K, Armstrong SP, Campos-Pires R, et al., 2013, Neuroprotection against traumatic brain injury by xenon but not argon, is mediated by inhibition at the NMDA receptor glycine site, Anesthesiology, Vol:119, ISSN:1528-1175, Pages:1137-1148

Yip GM, Chen ZW, Edge CJ, et al., 2013, A propofol binding site on mammalian GABAA receptors identified by photolabeling, Nature Chemical Biology, Vol:9, ISSN:1552-4469, Pages:715-720

Armstrong, SP, Banks PJ, et al., 2012, Identification of two mutations (F758W & F758Y) in the NMDA receptor glycine-binding site that prevent competitive inhibition by xenon without affecting glycine binding, Anesthesiology, Vol:117, ISSN:1528-1175, Pages:38-47

Geldart CH, Banks P, Mckitrick TJW, et al., 2011, A specific amino acid in the glycine-binding site of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor is involved in xenon inhibition of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor, British Journal of Anaesthesia, Vol:106

Dickinson R, Franks NP, 2010, Bench-to-bedside review: molecular pharmacology and clinical use of inert gases in anesthesia and neuroprotection, Critical Care, Vol:14, ISSN:1364-8535

Banks P, Franks NP, Dickinson R, 2010, Xenon neuroprotection against hypoxia-ischemia is mediated by the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor glycine site, British Journal of Anaesthesia, Vol:104

Dickinson R, Peterson B, Banks P, et al., 2007, Competitive Inhibition at the Glycine Site of the NMDA Receptor by the Anesthetics Xenon and Isoflurane: Evidence from Molecular Modeling and Electrophysiology, Anesthesiology, Vol:107, Pages:756-767

de Sousa SLM, Dickinson R, Lieb WR, et al., 2000, Contrasting synaptic actions of the inhalational general anesthetics isoflurane and xenon, Anesthesiology, Vol:92, ISSN:0003-3022, Pages:1055-1066

Franks NP, Dickinson R, de Sousa SL, et al., 1998, How does xenon produce anaesthesia?, Nature, Vol:396


Campos-Pires R, Yonis A, Pau A, et al., 2018, Xenon is neuroprotective against blast traumatic brain injury in vitro, British Journal of Anaesthesia Research Forum, Elsevier, Pages:e23-e23, ISSN:0007-0912

Campos-Pires R, Armstrong S, Sebastiani A, et al., 2018, Xenon treatment improves short-term and long-term outcomes in a rodent model of traumatic brain injury, British Journal of Anaesthesia Research Forum, Elsevier, Pages:e21-e21, ISSN:0007-0912

Harris K, Armstrong S, Campos-Pires R, et al., 2016, Neuroprotection against traumatic brain injury by xenon, but not argon, is mediated by inhibition at the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor glycine site, International Brain Injury Association’s Eleventh World Congress on Brain Injury, Taylor & Francis, Pages:606-606, ISSN:1362-301X


Baroness Finlay of Llandaff I, Myers I, Dickinson R, et al., 2017, Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Saving Lives, Advancing Treatment, Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Saving Lives, Advancing Treatment, London, All Party Parliamentary Group on Carbon Monoxide

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