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Jonathan Attwood

MA (Oxon) BMBCh PGCert AFHEA


DPhil Student & MRC Clinical Research Training Fellow

  • Clinical Neurosciences DPhil Student
  • Clinical Research Training Fellow (Neurology)
  • Honorary Clinical Teaching Fellow

Biography

Jonathan completed his medical training at the University of Oxford in 2017, before pursuing a clerkship in Neurology at Harvard Medical School and an attachment in Neurosurgery at the University of California San Francisco.

After graduating, Jonathan performed research alongside his clinical training as an Honorary Research Fellow in NDCN, publishing in the fields of neurology, neurosurgery, neuropsychology, and histopathology. He served as Research Lead on the national committee of the Neurology and Neurosurgery Special Interest Group, and has presented his research to the British Neuroscience Association, the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies, and the World Federation of Neurology. 

In 2021, he gained an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship to combine specialty training in neurology with neuroscience research in Oxford. In 2023, he was awarded an MRC Clinical Research Training Fellowship to pursue a DPhil in Clinical Neurosciences. His research supervisors are Professor Gabriele De Luca and Professor Edward de Haan, and he is mentored by Professor Margaret Esiri.

Research

My PhD research addresses the long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries.

A traumatic brain injury is a head injury which results in symptoms of brain dysfunction. One in two people will experience a traumatic brain injury in their lifetime. 

Suffering a traumatic brain injury significantly increases the risk of developing common neurological conditions in later life, including dementia, stroke, and epilepsy, as well as common psychiatric disorders such as depression. More research is needed to understand why this is the case and what can be done to reduce these risks. 

Recent studies have revealed important insights into the long term effects of certain types of brain injuries, especially concussion. However, we still know very little about other types of brain injuries, including the most severe cases which involve direct damage to the brain caused by injuries that penetrate the skull. 

To address this, I am studying a uniquely detailed collection of information gathered over the lifetime of several thousand veterans who survived for decades after penetrating brain injuries. I am working to answer the following questions: 

1. What are the long-term effects of penetrating brain injuries on physical health, mental health, and life expectancy?

2. What can we learn about the processes which cause dementia from the study of brain tissue donated by survivors of penetrating brain injuries?

3. What are the specific problems faced by people living with damage to particular regions of the brain after penetrating brain injuries?

By answering these questions I hope to contribute towards improving the lives of people affected by traumatic brain injuries and our understanding of how the brain works.

Recent publications

More publications

Teaching

Jonathan has taught regularly at Oxford Medical School for more than five years. He is an Honorary Clinical Teaching Fellow in NDCN, a Medical Tutor at Harris Manchester College, and an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

His teaching experience ranges from anatomy demonstration to resuscitation training, and he has co-supervised a number of successful student research and education projects. He now provides regular clinical tutorials, seminars, and lectures in clinical neuroscience. In 2022, he was recognised by the Medical Sciences Division as Tutor of the Term.

Sport

I am leading a project to address the unmet need for medical student training in the recognition and management of concussion. This initiative is part of a broader mission to raise awareness about concussion and provide training which equips healthcare professionals to practice with competence and confidence at the increasingly important interface between neurology and sport.

As a student I played hockey for the University of Oxford and cricket for Oxford Medical School. As a doctor I still enjoy playing tennis and run regularly. I have cycled from London to Paris and competed in the Oxford Half Marathon, Blenheim Triathlon, and Paris Marathon.

Art

Exploring the relationship between art and the brain is how I first became interested in neuroscience. I have conducted scientific experiments and public engagement events in museums of art and history, and I now contribute to teaching in medical humanities on the subject of 'innovation'. For more information please see the Art and Neuroscience Project.