Centre for In Vivo Imaging

Staff Profiles

Professor Alan Thomas

Professor of Old Age Psychiatry


Present Appointment

Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at Newcastle University and Honorary Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. 

Area of expertise

  • Dementia with Lewy bodies
  • Mild Cognitive Impairment
  • Late-life depression
  • Biomarkers

Other Appointments

  • Director of Brains for Dementia Research
  • Director of MRC UK Nervous Tissue Network
  • Clinical Director of Newcastle Human Brain Tissue Resource, Newcastle University


Main Research Interests:


Clinical studies in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)

We are running studies to improve the early detection and characterisation of DLB. A prospective study (SUPERB, funded by ARUK and supported by Newcastle NIHR BRC) focusses on detailed repeated assessment of early symptoms and several biomarkers of DLB with subjects being compared with age-matched controls and having given consent to brain tissue donation so we can finally gain definitive autopsy-informed diagnoses.

In a related programme we are investigating two key imaging biomarkers, dopaminergic imaging using SPECT FPCIT and myocardial scintigraphy using MIBG, in people with cognitive decline and dementia, comparing them with healthy older control subjects. This project is funded by a fellowship to Gemma Roberts by the Alzheimer's Society and aims to improve the accuracy and sensitivity of these imaging techniques.

Brain Bank Studies in dementia with Lewy Bodies 

Within our NIHR BRC we are conducting a series of inter-related studies examining different components of the neural networks underpinning DLB, and in particular the visual pathway, in human brain tissue in order to identify molecular abnormalities that underpin visual hallucinations in DLB.

Wider Dementia Research

As Director of Brains for Dementia Research I lead this national programme funded jointly by the Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer's Research UK. We have a cohort of >2500 people who are reviewed annually at one of our six centres (Newcastle, Bristol, London, Manchester, Cardiff and Oxford) using a wide range of clinical, behavioural and general health measures. All participants have agreed to brain tissue donation and so far over 700 people have donated brain tissue which is distributed to researchers from our participating brain banks.

Other Research

I direct a new MRC programme to establish a national nervous tissue resource for neuroscientists which involves collaborations with sites at UCL, KCL, Oxford, Swansea and Exeter,

I also contribute to several national, multicentre clinical trials and studies in dementia, such as the ESRC DETERMIND study, the MRC Deep and Frequent Phenotyping study, the NIHR HTA COBALT study of memantine in DLB and an NIHR HTA study to improve the management of depression in older people (ATLAS 75+)


Postgraduate: I teach on Vascular Dementia (on the Old Age Psychiatry module as part of the regional MRCPsych course).


External: I lecture on the British Association of Psychopharmacology module on Old Age Psychiatry on the Management of Mood Disorders.