Our expert Scientific Advisory Panel provides us with expert professional resources.

Members of the panel include highly regarded experts from neurological, neuropsychological, neuropsychiatric, neuro-immunological, paediatric, therapeutic and other relevant fields.

The panel meets annually to exchange information and progress research initiatives. Read all about them below! 


Assistant Prof Kiran Thakur

Dr Thakur is the Winifred Mercer Pitkin, MD Assistant Professor of Neurology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center - New York Presbyterian Hospital.

She leads the program in Neuroinfectious Diseases at Columbia and is the Director of the Post Doctoral Fellowship Program in Neuroinfectious Diseases.

In addition to her scientific efforts, Dr Thakur serves as a neurology consultant for the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment project on COVID-19 Vaccination safety.

Assistant Prof Omar Siddiqi

Omar K. Siddiqi MD MPH is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and a visiting lecturer at the University of Zambia School of Medicine in Lusaka, Zambia, where he has been based full-time since 2010.

The goals of his work are to answer critical questions related to the diagnosis of meningoencephalitis in sub-Saharan Africa and provide insight to improve future outcomes in this patient population.

He also helped developed the first adult and paediatric neurology training programs in Zambia which commenced in 2018 with assistance from the Encephalitis Society.


Assoc Prof Maarten Titulaer

He currently is an Associate Professor of Neurology and co-director of the Academic Center for Neuro-inflammatory disorders at the Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, focusing on translational research.

He combines epidemiological studies of large cohorts with detailed analysis of individual patients. His aim is to provide individual treatment options, based on patients’ signatures extracted from precise phenotypes, including validated biomarkers, and relevant knowledge of pathophysiological mechanisms. 


Dr Arleta Starza-Smith

She works as a Consultant Paediatric Neuropsychologist and is Director of Clinical Psychology and Neuropsychology at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Dr Ava Easton

Dr Ava Easton is Chief Executive of The Encephalitis Society, a researcher and global expert on encephalitis patient outcomes and quality of life. Ava has produced and published many papers, book chapters, and a book (Life After Encephalitis) on various aspects of encephalitis and its after-effects; she also speaks at conferences and lectures around the world on the condition and its impact for patients and their families.

Dr Bonnie-Kate Dewar

Dr Bonnie-Kate Dewar has over 20 years of experience as a Clinical Neuropsychologist. She is a chartered psychologist with the British Psychological Society, on the BPS Division of Neuropsychology specialist register and is registered with the Health Care Practitioners Council. Bonnie-Kate is the head of the DON Committee for the Training of Clinical Neuropsychology.

Dr Dewar is currently conducting research into the long-term outcome of sports-related concussions with the International Concussion and Head Injury Research Foundation.

Dr James Sejvar

Dr James J. Sejvar, M.D is a Neuroepidemiologist and a Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.

He is board-certified in neurology, with an area of focus in infectious diseases. His current research focus centers on the epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical features, and outcomes of infections of the nervous system, including encephalitis. 

Dr Jessica Fish

Dr Jessica Fish is a clinical psychologist and researcher specialising in outpatient neuropsychological rehabilitation.

Her research interests are broadly within neuropsychology and neuropsychological rehabilitation in adults. More specifically, her work focuses on improving assessment, formulation and rehabilitation for the cognitive and psychological problems that frequently occur after brain injury and that impair everyday functioning, such as those concerned with attention, memory, executive function, emotion regulation and adjustment.

Dr Lance Turtle

Dr Lance Turtle is a Wellcome fellow, reader and an honorary consultant in infectious diseases at the University of Liverpool Institute of Infection and Global Health and the Royal Liverpool University Hospital Tropical and Infectious Disease Unit.

Current research interests include pathogenesis of arboviral disease, neurological infections, immunity to infection, vaccines and immune cross reactivity between flaviviruses.

Dr Matteo Gastaldi

Dr Matteo Gastaldi is a neurologist specialised in the treatment of antibody mediated disorders of the nervous system including Myasthenia Gravis, MOGAD and NMOSD and Autoimmune Encephalitis.

Since 2021, he is the Head of the Neuroimmunology Research Unit in Pavia and the Co-head of the Neuroimmunology Diagnostic Laboratory. He is also involved in patient care and performs once a week a neuroimmunology clinic dedicated to patients with antibody mediated disorders of the nervous system.

Dr Michel Toledano

Dr. Michel Toledano is a Neurology Specialist in Rochester, Minnesota.

He graduated with honors in 2010. Having more than eight years of diverse experiences, especially in neurology, Dr. Michel Toledano affiliates with Mayo Clinic Hospital Rochester, and cooperates with other doctors and specialists in medical group Mayo Clinic.


Dr Nicholas Davies – Chair of the Scientific Advisory Panel

Dr Nicholas Davies is a consultant neurologist who works at Chelsea and Westminster, Charing Cross, and the Royal Marsden Hospitals in London. He is also neurologist to the UK's National Centre for Human Retrovirology.

He has a sub-specialty and research interest in neurological infection. He runs both a weekly neuro-infection and HIV neurology clinic. He has a monthly clinic for neurological problems related to HTLV-1 infection.


Dr Nick Makwana

He graduated in Medicine from Birmingham University in 1996 (MBChB) with a distinction in Anatomy and honours in Biochemistry, Physiology, Pathology, Social Medicine, Public Health and Pharmacology before completing his medical training at Birmingham City Hospital. He also gained an additional honors degree in Pharmacology (BSc).

Dr Rachel Keen

Dr Rachel Kneen studied medicine in Nottingham, before taking up a clinical research post at the University of Oxford, Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Unit, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

During this post, she developed an interest in central nervous system (CNS) infections and participated in many research projects on infectious diseases including meningitis, encephalitis (mostly caused by Japanese Encephalitis virus), tuberculous meningitis, dengue haemorrhagic fever, rabies, typhoid, tetanus and diphtheria.

Dr Steven White

Dr Steven White read psychology and philosophy at the University of Oxford and went on to complete a doctorate in developmental neuropsychology looking at the effects of closed head injury in children.

He went on to qualify in medicine at the University of Cambridge and then trained in psychiatry and neuropsychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital and in the United States. After EEG/epilepsy fellowships at the Medical College of Virginia and the National Institutes of Health he moved into his current area of clinical neurophysiology/epilepsy.

Dr Thomas Pollak

He is a NIHR Clinical Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London and a specialty trainee general adult psychiatrist at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. His specialist clinical interest is in neuropsychiatry.

His other research interests include the role of infections in psychiatry, glutamatergic abnormalities in psychosis and organic presentations in clinical neuropsychiatry.

Professor Angela Vincent

She is Emeritus Professor of Neuroimmunology at the University  of Oxford, and an Emeritus Fellow of Somerville College.

Her major interests in the past included discovering new antibodies causing neurological diseases, devising new ways to measure the pathogenic antibodies to improve diagnosis, and establishing models in vitro and in vivo for investigating these conditions.

Professor Arun Venkatesan

Arun Venkatesan is a Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in the Department of Neurology, Division of Neuroimmunology and Neuroinfectious Diseases.

His laboratory research focuses on defining mechanisms of central nervous system injury in the setting of infection and neuroinflammation, with a goal towards developing protective and regenerative strategies in multiple sclerosis (MS) and encephalitis.

Professor Benedict Michael – Vice Chair of the Scientific Advisory Panel

Professor Benedict Michael is a Reader and MRC Clinician Scientist at The NIHR Health Protection Research Unit for Emerging and Zoonotic Infection and an Honorary Consultant Neurologist at The Walton Centre. 

Professor Michael is currently co-Chairing the World Health Organisation (WHO) - Commissioned Task Force on Acute Clinical Care for Neurological complications of COVID-19.

Professor Carsten Finke

Professor Carsten Finke is a Heisenberg Professor for Cognitive Neurology and Consultant Neurologist at the Department of Neurology at Charité Berlin.

He is also a founding member and member of the scientific council of the German Network for Research on Autoimmune Encephalitis (GENERATE). His research focuses on cognitive deficits and associated brain imaging alterations in neurological disorders with a specific interest in neuroimmunological diseases, especially autoimmune encephalitis.

Professor Frank Leypoldt

Following his molecular biology master and medical degree at the University of Hamburg, Prof Leypoldt completed a neurologic residency and research fellowships in immune mechanisms of stroke in Hamburg, Germany. Focusing on the emerging field of autoimmune encephalitis, he joined Professor Josep Dalmau’s lab at the IDIBAPS in Barcelona as a research fellow.

He is currently Head of the neuroimmunology section at the University-Hospital Schleswig Holstein Kiel. Frank is a speaker and PI in a large collaborative German Research project (GENERATE) and European research initiative as well as part of the European and German guideline committees.

Professor Peter Kennedy CBE

Professor Kennedy appeared in the New Years Honours list receiving a CBE for his services to clinical science. In October 2020, Peter Kennedy has received the RSE Royal Medal, awarded on the authority of Her Majesty The Queen, from the Royal Society of Edinburgh in recognition of his work in treating sleeping sickness and other neuroviruses.

Professor Sarosh R Irani

He is a consultant neurologist and clinician-scientist with clinical and laboratory experiences in the field of autoantibody-mediated diseases of the nervous system, in particular the central nervous system. He cares for patients with these disorders and runs a research group to learn more about the origins and treatments of these diseases. He also welcomes referrals of patients with possible autoimmune neurological conditions.

He is currently exploring new antigenic targets, improved methods to measure antibody levels, mechanisms of antibody action and methods to study novel therapeutic agents as part of a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Fellowship.

Professor Tom Solomon CBE – President

He was made a Senior Lecturer in Neurology in Liverpool in 2005 and awarded a Medical Research Council Senior Clinical Fellowship the same year. He became Chair of Neurological Science in 2007, and Head of the newly formed Institute of Infection and Global Health in 2010.

He heads the Brain Infections Group, which, with more than 9 million pounds in funding in recent years, works to reduce the burden of neurological disease in the UK and globally. And won a Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon dressed as a doctor.

June is Encephalitis Research Month.

And to celebrate, The Big Give is offering to DOUBLE every donation we receive this month - so for every £1 that is donated, we will receive another £1 on top.

Any money raised will go towards our Encephalitis Research Month appeal and projects which support researchers around the world.

If you would like to double your donation to the Encephalitis Society, visit the Big Give website.