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





Mechanisms of Anaesthesia & Treatments for Brain Injury

My lab is interested in molecular mechanisms of general anaesthesia and neuroprotection (protection against brain injuries such as stroke or traumatic brain injury).  The identification of  the molecular targets of certain anaesthetics such as xenon has led to the idea of using these anaesthetics as treatments to prevent brain damage in conditions such as neonatal hypoxia/ischemia and traumatic brain injury.  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.

Current & RECENT Group Members

 PHD1PhD Students

Scott Armstrong               Katie Harris      Rita Campos Pires


Diya Malhotra      Mariia Koziakova     Sarah Ciechanowicz


Masters StudentsMREs1 

Amina Yonis                  Perrine Pluchon       Ala MedjadamMRes2

Ashni Pau (BSc)             Sophie Rae  (BSc)   


Group member 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 2011-2

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, Edge CJ, Dickinson R, 2016, Argon: A Noble Foe for Subarachnoid Hemorrhage, Critical Care Medicine, Vol:44, ISSN:0090-3493, 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:0090-3493, Pages:149-158

Yip GMS, Chen Z-W, Edge CJ, et al., 2013, A propofol binding site on mammalian GABA(A) receptors identified by photolabeling, Nature Chemical Biology, Vol:9, ISSN:1552-4450, Pages:715-+

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 N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor Glycine Site, Anesthesiology, Vol:119, ISSN:0003-3022, Pages:1137-1148

Armstrong SP, Banks PJ, McKitrick TJW, et al., 2012, Identification of Two Mutations (F758W and F758Y) in the N-methyl-D-aspartate Receptor Glycine-binding Site that Selectively Prevent Competitive Inhibition by Xenon without Affecting Glycine Binding, Anesthesiology, Vol:117, ISSN:0003-3022, 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:1466-609X

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

Banks P, Franks NP, Dickinson R, 2010, Competitive Inhibition at the Glycine Site of the N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor Mediates Xenon Neuroprotection against Hypoxia-Ischemia, Anesthesiology, Vol:112, ISSN:0003-3022, Pages:614-622

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 SLM, et al., 1998, How does xenon produce anaesthesia?, Nature, Vol:396, ISSN:0028-0836, Pages:324-324

Dickinson R, Peterson BK, Banks P, et al., 2007, Competitive inhibition at the glycine site of the n-methyl-d-aspartate receptor by the Anesthetics xenon and Isoflurane, Anesthesiology, Vol:107, ISSN:0003-3022, Pages:756-767

More Publications