Imperial College London

Dr David R Owen MD PhD

Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Brain Sciences

Reader in Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Medicine



+44 (0)20 3313 6195d.owen Website




G20AICTEM buildingHammersmith Campus






I am a Clinical Pharmacologist funded by an MRC Clinician Scientist Fellowship.

My fellowship is investigating the role of microglia in brain disease. Microglia are immune cells that reside in the brain. They are referred to as the “policemen of the brain” because they detect neuronal damage and become activated in response to almost any brain injury, including in neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease. Microglia can perform supportive, trophic functions, but they can also inappropriately phagocytose synapses and release neurotoxic mediators which drive neuronal damage. The way in which microglia respond to Alzheimer’s Disease is therefore very important. Indeed, converging data from genomics, neuropathology, cell biology and transgenic mouse experiments suggest that the microglial response is a fundamental driver of disease progression. Therefore, if microglial phenotype can be modulated in neurodegenerative disease, this may be a means of slowing disease progression. The focus of my group is contribute to the understanding of how microglial phenotype drives disease, and the development of microglial modulating strategies.


In addition, I am Head of Clinical Studies at the NIHR Imperial Clinical Research Facility, a unit which helps Imperial College researchers turn their laboratory discoveries into medicines of the future. 


I spend the remaining ~20% of my time in clinical medicine seeing patients on the acute medical take, leading Pharmacology teaching (with Chris John) at Imperial Medical School, and contributing to committees on the use of medicines. This includes chairing the North West London Integrated Formulary Committee which covers GP practices responsible for approximately 2.6 million people, and chairing the Subregional IVIG committee covering the stewardship of this life saving but scarce resource across 6 NHS Trusts.


If you are interested in working on any of these projects, or wanting to start a new one in this field, please do get in touch.




Nutma E, Fancy N, Weinert M, et al., 2023, Translocator protein is a marker of activated microglia in rodent models but not human neurodegenerative diseases, Nature Communications, Vol:14, ISSN:2041-1723, Pages:1-25

Mahmud M, Wade C, Jawad S, et al., 2023, Translocator protein PET imaging in temporal lobe epilepsy: a reliable test-retest study using laterality index, Frontiers in Neuroimaging, Vol:2, ISSN:2813-1193, Pages:1-10

Writing Committee for the REMAP-CAP Investigators, Lawler PR, Derde LPG, et al., 2023, Effect of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor and angiotensin receptor blocker initiation on organ support–free days in patients hospitalized with COVID-19, Jama: Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol:329, ISSN:0098-7484, Pages:1183-1196

Roussakis A, Gennaro M, Gordon MF, et al., 2023, A PET-CT study on neuroinflammation in Huntington’s patients participating in a randomised trial with laquinimod, Brain Communications, Vol:5, ISSN:2632-1297, Pages:1-10

Robbins AJ, Che Bakri NA, Toke-Bjolgerud E, et al., 2023, The effect of TRV027 on coagulation in COVID 19: A pilot randomized, placebo-controlled controlled trial, British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Vol:89, ISSN:0306-5251, Pages:1495-1501

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