Dr Gregory Scott recently became a Group Leader at the UK DRI Centre for Care Research and Technology. A neurologist with a unique perspective, afforded by his background in computer science, his research combines engineering, neuroscience, and translational medicine. Here, Dr Scott discusses what inspired him to pursue neuroscience, why he wanted to become a UK DRI Group Leader, and his recently awarded NIHR Advanced Fellowship.
Introducing Gregory Scott, UK DRI Centre for Care Research & Technology
Introduce yourself – who are you and what do you do?
I’m Dr Greg Scott. I am a PI in the Department of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London, and I’m an honorary consultant neurologist at the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. My current post is an Imperial Post-doctoral Post-CCT Research Fellowship (IPPRF). I am starting an NIHR Advanced Fellowship this year. I’ve also recently been made a Group Leader in the UK Dementia Research Institute Care Research & Technology centre, at the White City Campus.
Tell us about your career so far?
I first studied Computing (BEng) at Imperial, in 1999. During my first year, my life changed when I had epileptic seizures and was diagnosed with a temporal lobe brain tumour. This was resected during an awake craniotomy at Charing Cross Hospital in March 2000. At the time this felt like simultaneously the most barbaric and sophisticated thing to do to someone.
The whole experience was an intellectual awakening, and I became fascinated by neurology and neuroscience. I resolved to study Medicine. I did Chemistry A-level (required for Medicine) in evening classes while doing a research Masters (MSc Advanced Computing). I then did the MBBS course at Imperial and graduated in 2008. Ever since, I’ve mixed my clinical work and research, doing an academic clinical fellowship, a PhD, and then an NIHR Clinical Lectureship. I finished my neurology training in February 2022. I’ve recently written about my experience for the Practical Neurology journal.
Can you explain a bit more about your research interests and what initially sparked your interest in your current field?
I think my computational background gives me quite a unique perspective on neurology and neuroscience, and my research interests are at the intersection of these things. The focus of my PhD was the link between brain injury, neuroinflammation, and neurodegeneration, which is very relevant for dementia. I also investigated how conscious states relate to the dynamics of brain activity and measures of cortical information processing. I’m especially interested in abnormal states of consciousness, and how we can use tools from information theory and machine learning to measure the brain activity linked to these states, and eventually produce a clinically useful device to use on the patient in front of me.
Why did you want to start a lab at the UK DRI?
I have been working with the Centre for Care Research & Technology since its inception. I can see the value in its multi-disciplinary approach, and as an academic neurologist with a computer science background, I think my own skill set maps very well to the work of the Centre. To be part of the UK DRI is an exciting opportunity and I hope to make good use of the collaborations and opportunities it affords.
You recently started an NIHR Advanced Fellowship project – what will this research be about?
The five-year fellowship funds a study to develop better measures of brain state in hospitalised patients by combining simple electroencephalography (EEG) hardware and machine learning. I find clinical EEG at the moment is often a poorly accessible and quite mysterious tool for many clinicians. There is a range of easy-to-use EEG hardware nowadays. To my mind, the challenge is how to turn EEG signals into clinically useful metrics that we can use more widely than we do currently.
The fellowship focus is patients with delirium – an acute disturbance of consciousness. Delirium is a risk factor for dementia, and it is also common in people living with dementia. This is a prevalent yet poorly understood condition that is not only bad for your brain but, clinically, we are surprisingly poor at detecting and measuring it. I want to improve on that situation.
What aspect of your role are you most excited about?
I love my job. I feel very fortunate to be in a position where I can be the master of my own destiny in a way that most jobs don’t afford, although it comes with a lot of stresses and a want to do justice to the opportunity I’ve been given. I am able to mix thinking, analysis, writing, patient contact, supervision, and leadership, which is very fulfilling. In the end I want to bring about discoveries, devices, and treatments that have a real-world effect.
When you are not working, what are your main passions and hobbies?
I am passionate about creativity and originality, about not being just a consumer, but thinking differently and putting stuff out into the world. I have three wonderful children, who are grounding and inspiring, and I hope I imbue this sense in them. I enjoy doing creative projects with them. We make short films. I am trying to teach them programming. I am slightly obsessed with song writing.
And finally – if you were stranded on a desert island but allowed one luxury item, what would it be?
I would say I’d take my kids, but luxury is not the right adjective. I pretty unashamedly would take my laptop (provided it had an internet connection), because it subsumes a lot of other choices, and it affords a pretty limitless world of opportunity, learning, and productivity. And it might keep my students happy.
To find out more about Dr Gregory Scott, visit his UK DRI profile.
Source: Imperial College London
Article published: 22 Jan 2024
Banner image: Shutterstock/Alina Bratosin