Professor Alexandra J. Sinclair MBChB, MRCP, PhD

Professor Alex Sinclair

Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research
Professor of Neurology
IMSR Lead for Business Engagement

Contact details

Metabolic Neurology Research Group
Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Sinclair is Professor of Neurology within the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research (IMSR) at the University of Birmingham, and Head of the Metabolic Neurology Research Group. She is an international figure in translational research in Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH), headache and traumatic brain injury.

Professor Sinclair is a member of the board for the European Headache Federation and is on the scientific committee for the North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society (NANOS). She is also a council member for the British Association for the Study of Headache (BASH). Professor Sinclair is on the MRC Neuroscience and Mental Health Board and the Midland Neuroscience Teaching and Research Fund Board, as well as being Chair of the Brain Research UK Scientific Advisory Board.

Previously, she was a board member of the International Headache Society (IHS) and was the Deputy Chair for the Association for British Neurologists grouping for Headache and Pain (ABN AAG). She was on the research committee for the Association for British Neurologists and was also the previous patron of the patient charity IIH UK.

In partnership with the Defence Medical Services and the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Professor Sinclair and a team of experts at the University of Birmingham are leading a major new study aimed at identifying new ways to accurately predict whether patients will develop long-term complications as a consequence of mild Traumatic Brain injury.

With initial funding from the Ministry of Defence, the study is  projected to run over eight years. The multi-faceted study will include a trial involving 800 subjects (civilians, people with sports related injuries and military personnel) aged over 18 with a new diagnosis of mild Traumatic Brain injury  (sometimes called concussion).

Air Vice-Marshal (Professor) R D J Withnall, Director Defence Healthcare, commented: "I am delighted that the Defence Medical Services, including the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Stanford Hall, will be working hand-in-glove with class-leading civilian colleagues.  I fully support this ground-breaking research which I am confident will lead to significant clinical innovation to benefit military and civilian patients, and have translational positive impact for sporting activities from grass-roots to elite levels."

Recently Professor Sinclair has launched a new study  funded by the UK Space Agency aimed at solving the health challenges faced by astronauts during long missions

NASA Chief Health and Medical Officer, James Polk, D.O. commented: 

“NASA is fortunate to have Dr Sinclair, an UK world class expert researcher, helping to answer a much needed space medical problem. Her grant from the UK Space Agency will importantly help protect not only astronauts during long duration space missions but many people on earth who suffer from increased intracranial pressure.”


  • Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, 2019
  • PhD, 2010
  • Member of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP), UK, 2003
  • MBChB, University of Birmingham, 2000


NASA delegation visits University of Birmingham to discuss its mission to Mars

Professor Sinclair graduated from the University of Birmingham's Medical School in 2000 with honours and attained her MRCP in 2003. She completed her PhD in 2010, funded by a Medical Research Council Clinical Research Training Fellowship. Subsequently, she worked as a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Lecturer in Neurology and then a NIHR funded Clinician Scientist & Neurology Consultant.

She leads a translational research group, which seeks to establish and exploit the pathophysiological mechanisms underpinning the debilitating effects of metabolism and intracranial pressure on headache, traumatic brain injury and Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH). She looks to develop therapeutic strategies and generate real impact while improving patient care. The translational portfolio also encompasses a clinical trials programme enabling forward (novel therapeutic molecules are under assessment in patients) and back translation (biomarker evaluation in the laboratory setting). She leads the multidisciplinary Clinical Headache Service and Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension Service at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

Professor Sinclair is a council member for the British Association for the Study of Headache (BASH). Internationally, she is on the scientific committee for the North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society (NANOS) and a member of the European Headache Federation Board.

She was previously the Deputy Chair for the Association for British Neurologists grouping for Headache and Pain (ABN AAG) and on the research committee for the Association for British Neurologists. She was also previously a member of the International Headache Society Board.

Professor Sinclair and her research group hosted a high profile visit from NASA, in 2019. NASA are interested in Professor Sinclair's expertise on raised intracranial pressure stemming from her leading Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension Clinical Service at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust coupled with her translational science portfolio at the University of Birmingham. Her recent discovery of the novel use of glucogon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists to reduce intracranial pressure are of particular interest to the NASA team in their quest to reduce brain pressure during long duration space travel and allow them to go beyond the moon.

The NASA visitors were: Dr JD Polk, Chief Health and Medical Officer, Dr Terrance Taddeo, Johnson Space Centre Chief Medical Officer, Dr Mike Barratt, Physician and Astronaut, Dr Victor Schneider, Physician Liaison to the NASA Human Research Programme and Dr John Allen, Audiologist and member of the Human Exploration. As part of the visit Dr JD Polk gave a sold-out keynote talk.


Professor Sinclair completed her Certificate of Specialist Training in Neurology in 2013 and established and leads the Tertiary Referal Complex Headache Service and multi-disciplinary IIH Service at University Hospital Birmingham. She has a particular interest in traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic headache. She is passionate about driving excellence in clinical care and moving knowledge from research to improved patient outcomes.


Teaching Programmes


Professor Sinclair's work is supported by a number of academic grants and collaborations with industry.

Defining new treatment and headache mechanisms in raised intracranial pressure

Through a Sir Jules Thorn Award for Biomedical Science, Professor Sinclair is running a 5-year programme defining new treatment and headache mechanisms in raised intracranial pressure. In particular, she will be evaluating the efficacy of a GLP-1 receptor agonst to treat Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) through a UK randomised control trial. Mechanistic work will comprise human physiology studies with complimentary in vivo studies. 

Establishing the optimal surgical intervention to preserve vision in IIH

This UK multi-centre randomised control trial funded by the NIHR HTA for six years will evaluate the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of dual venus sinus stenting compared to cerebrospinal fluid shunting to prevent visual loss in fulmimant IIH.

Defining the metabolic contributors to intracranial pressure regulation

Utilising in vivo models with intracranial pressure monitoring, the group is exploring mechanisms that regulate intracranial pressure. Some of this work is in collaboration with Professor Rigmor Jensen, University of Copenhagen through a collaborative Lundbeck Foundation grant.

Establishing accurate biomarkers for mild traumatic brain injury

In colloboration with the Royal Centre of Defence Medicine, this project is seeking to identify accurate reproducible biomarkers in mTBI that will predict the most common and disabling consequences of mTBI: primarily persistent post-traumatic headache, as well as cognitive dysfunction, depression, PTSD, dizziness and return to work. This will be achieved through an interdisciplinary harmonised research programme consisting of detailed clinical phenotyping of acute mTBI patients coupled with state-of-the-art multimodal biomarker evaluation (brain imaging, fluid biomarkers, steroid hormones, visual, vestibular, cerebral physiology and EEG biomarkers) in both military and civilian patients.

Investigate the optimal method of therapeutic weight management in IIH

Through a five year research programme funded by the NIHR, a randomised control trial has evaluated the optimal method of treating IIH through weight loss by comparing a bariatric surgery pathway with a community weight loss intervention. The programme additionally seeks to identify the relationship between weight and intracranial pressure and headache. As well as gaining understanding of the mechanisms by which weight loss modifies intracranial pressure.

Other activities

Membership of professional bodies:

Public engagement

Patents and commercialisation

  • Patent: Inventor for the use of GLP-1 agonists in intracranial pressure, no: 1415598 (filed 2014 US, EU, ROW: granted 2019 ROW 2020 EU & US)
  • Orphan Drug designation: European Medicine Agency and FDA 2016.
  • Spin out company: Invex Therapeutics, Founder, Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer (formed 2018 and listed on the Australian Stock exchange following capital raises of AUS $38).


Recent publications


Lyons, H, Sassani, M, Hyder, YF, Mitchell, J, Thaller, M, Mollan, S, Sinclair, A, Blanch, R & Waitt, A 2024, 'A systematic review of optical coherence tomography findings in adults with mild traumatic brain injury', Eye.

Thaller, M, Homer, V, Abbott, S, Hazlehurst, J, Mollan, SP & Sinclair, AJ 2024, 'Does a Healthy Weight Body Mass Index at Onset of Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension Change the Outcomes? A United Kingdom Prospective Cohort Study', Neuro-Ophthalmology.

Grech, O, Mitchell, J, Lyons, H, Yiangou, A, Thaller, M, Tsermoulas, G, Brock, K, Mollan, S & Sinclair, A 2024, 'Effect of glucagon like peptide-1 receptor agonist exenatide, used as an intracranial pressure lowering agent, on cognition in Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension', Eye.

Ashina, H, Diener, H-C, Tassorelli, C, Scher, AI, Lipton, RB, Pozo-Rosich, P, Sinclair, AJ, Chong, CD, Finkel, AG, Ashina, M, Schwedt, TJ, Dodick, DW & Terwindt, GM 2024, 'Guidelines of the International Headache Society for controlled trials of pharmacological preventive treatment for persistent post-traumatic headache attributed to mild traumatic brain injury', Cephalalgia, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 1-18.

Schiffer, L, Oestlund, I, Snoep, JL, Gilligan, LC, Taylor, AE, Sinclair, AJ, Singhal, R, Freeman, A, Ajjan, R, Tiganescu, A, Arlt, W & Storbeck, KH 2024, 'Inhibition of the glucocorticoid‐activating enzyme 11β‐hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 drives concurrent 11‐oxygenated androgen excess', FASEB Journal, vol. 38, no. 7, e23574.

Mollan, S, Momin, SNA, Khatkar, PS, Grech, O, Sinclair, A & Tsermoulas, G 2023, 'A neuro-ophthalmologist’s guide to advances in intracranial pressure measurements', Eye and Brain, vol. 15, pp. 113-124.

Thaller, M, Homer, V, Mollan, S & Sinclair, A 2023, 'Asymptomatic idiopathic intracranial hypertension: Prevalence and prognosis', Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology.

Piccus, R, Thaller, M, Sinclair, A & Mollan, S 2023, 'Current and emerging diagnostic and management approaches for idiopathic intracranial hypertension', Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics.

Hyder, YF, Homer, V, Thaller, M, Byrne, M, Tsermoulas, G, Piccus, R, Mollan, SP & Sinclair, AJ 2023, 'Defining the Phenotype and Prognosis of People With Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension After Cerebrospinal Fluid Diversion Surgery', American Journal of Ophthalmology, vol. 250, pp. 70-81.

Mollan, S, Subramanian, A, Perrins, M, Nirantharakumar, K, Adderley, N & Sinclair, A 2023, 'Depression and anxiety in women with idiopathic intracranial hypertension compared to migraine: a matched controlled cohort study', Headache, vol. 63, pp. 290-298.

Alimajstorovic, Z, Mitchell, J, Yiangou, A, Hancox, T, Southam, A, Grech, O, Ottridge, R, Winder, C, Tahrani, A, Tan, TM, Mollan, S, Dunn, W & Sinclair, A 2023, 'Determining the role of novel metabolic pathways in driving intracranial pressure reduction after weight loss', Brain Communications, vol. 5, no. 5, fcad272.

Thaller, M, Homer, V, Mollan, SP & Sinclair, AJ 2023, 'Disease Course and Long-term Outcomes in Pregnant Women With Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension: The IIH Prospective Maternal Health Study', Neurology, vol. 100, no. 15, pp. E1598-E1610.


Bilton, EJ, Sinclair, A & Mollan, S 2023, 'Comment on: ‘The expanding spectrum of idiopathic intracranial hypertension’', Eye, vol. 37, 3049.

Thaller, M, Adderley, N, Subramanian, A, Mollan, S & Sinclair, A 2023, 'Comorbid polycystic ovarian syndrome in idiopathic intracranial hypertension', Neuro-Ophthalmology, vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 49-52.


Thaller, M, Sinclair, A, Tsermoulas, G & Mollan, S 2023, 'Considerations from venous stenosis to metabolic underpinnings in Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension', Cephalalgia, vol. 43, no. 6, pp. 1-3.

View all publications in research portal