Academic Neurology Unit

Academic Neurology Unit

There are two main strands to the clinical neurology research we do in Aberdeen:

  • Observational research to improve understanding of the frequency, causes and prognosis of neurological diseases
  • Research to improve the evidence-based management of neurological disorders

These approaches have been applied to several neurological diseases, in particular Parkinson’s disease and related disorders (the primary interest of our group), multiple sclerosis and stroke.

Observational Studies

PINE Study

Much of the research over the past 10 years has been based around establishing and prospectively following up an incident cohort of people with newly diagnosed parkinsonism, their carers and an age-gender matched group of controls (the PINE study). As well as determining the incidence of Parkinson’s disease/other parkinsonian disorders, this study will continue to provide important new data on the long-term prognosis of these conditions, and has already resulted in a large number of papers and conference posters/presentations.

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Parkinsons Plus Study

We have recently started a multi-centre study across Scotland involving individuals with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) and Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD).  The study will explore the routes to diagnosis and care pathways of people with these diseases to find out how diagnosis and care could be improved.  It will also involve the carers or families of people with PSP and CBD, to find out the support that carers of people with PSP or CBD require.

Evidence-Based Management of Neurological Disorders

The unit has contributed to several large, non-commercially funded randomised trials in movement disorders, multiple sclerosis and motor neuron disease through

  • Design and conduct
  • Membership of steering/data monitoring committees
  • Patient recruitment

We are also the lead group for updating two Cochrane systematic reviews summarising the global randomised evidence for the use of monoamine oxidase inhibitors in Parkinson’s disease and also contribute to several Cochrane reviews of stroke treatments.


Over the past 10 years our funders have included: Parkinson’s UK, the Dystonia Society, the BUPA Foundation, Scottish Government Chief Scientists Office, the National Institute for Health Research, the PSP Association and NHS Grampian Endowments.


Our external collaborations include:

  • Incident Parkinsons cohorts (Umea University Sweden, Stavanger University Norway, Cambridge University, Newcastle University)

Staff/Research Supervision

The team includes one Clinical Reader (Dr Counsell), one Clinical Lecturer (Dr Macleod), one research nurse (Hazel Forbes) and a part-time secretary (Ann Christie). Several neurology and medicine for the elderly trainees have undertaken research within the unit resulting in two completed MDs and three completed PhDs. Currently, we have two clinical trainees undertaking PhDs. In addition, we have supervised numerous medical student elective projects and undergraduate BSc projects and postgraduate MSc projects, resulting in a number of publications.

Current Projects

  • PINE study: long-term prognosis of parkinsonian disorders
  • PINE study: predicting outcomes of people with Parkinson’s disease
  • Parkinsons incident cohort collaboration
  • Improving diagnostic and care pathways in Progressive Supranuclear Palsy and Corticobasal Degeneration study