Tom Solomon (neurologist)

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Tom Solomon
Alma materWadham College, Oxford (BM BCh BA)
Scientific career
ThesisCentral Nervous System Infections in Vietnam (2001)
Doctoral advisor
Other academic advisorsDavid Weatherall

Tom Solomon FRCP is Professor of Neurology, Director of the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool, and Director of the National Institute for Health Research, Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections.[2][3][4]

He is a specialist in the study of emerging viruses, especially those which infect the brain. He heads the Liverpool Brain Infections Group, which studies encephalitis (inflammation and swelling of the brain), particularly Japanese encephalitis, enterovirus 71 and other brain infections such as meningitis.[5] His science communication work as the "Running Mad Professor" raises awareness of emerging brain infections, as well as helping raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity.[6][7][8][9]

Early life and education[edit]

Solomon studied at the University of Oxford (Wadham College) where he obtained Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees.[citation needed] He completed his clinical training at the John Radcliffe Hospital, also studying malaria in Mozambique.[citation needed] His Ph.D. was for studies on Central nervous system infections in Vietnam, under the supervision of Nicholas White and John Newsom-Davis.[citation needed]


In 1990, Solomon was house officer to David Weatherall at the Nuffield Department of Medicine in the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. With the support of a Wellcome Trust Training Fellowship, he studied central nervous system infections at the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam (1994-7).[10] In 1998, he became Clinical Lecturer in Neurological Science at the University of Liverpool with honorary positions in the Department of Medical Microbiology and at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.[11]

With the support of a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship (1998-2004), he trained in arbovirology (the study of viruses transmitted by arthropods, such as mosquitoes) at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, with Alan Barrett.[12] Solomon became Clinical Senior Lecturer in Neurological Science at the University of Liverpool in 2005 and was awarded a UK Medical Research Council Senior Clinical Fellowship to continue his studies on Brain Infections.[11][13]

He set up the Liverpool Neurological Infectious Diseases course in 2007, which has since run annually.[14][15][16] He was appointed Professor of Neurological Science in 2007, and in 2010 became Director of the newly formed Institute of Infection and Global Health.[11][17] In 2014 he was appointed Director of the UK Government's National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections.[4][18][19] This unit works on a number of emerging infections, including the Ebola virus.[20][21] Solomon was awarded the Royal College of Physicians’ Linacre Lectureship in 2006, and in 2015 its Moxon Medal; this is awarded every three years for "outstanding observation and research in clinical medicine".[22]


Solomon’s research is on emerging brain infections, especially encephalitis (inflammation and swelling of the brain, usually caused by a virus). He is an expert on Japanese encephalitis, an emerging infectious disease that is a zoonosis spread from animals to humans by mosquitoes.[23] He showed that Japanese encephalitis virus can cause an illness with leg paralysis which could be confused for polio.[24] He also highlighted the importance of dengue, a related mosquito-borne virus, as a cause of neurological disease.[25] He works on the origins, evolution, and spread of Japanese encephalitis.[26][27] He has played a major role in the global campaign to control Japanese encephalitis through vaccination.[28] This included developing the Liverpool Outcome Score for quantifying the disability caused by Japanese encephalitis[29] and helping produce the WHO Surveillance Standards for detecting the disease.[30] He is also an expert on enterovirus 71, which causes hand foot and mouth disease and encephalitis.[31][32] He works on improving the diagnosis, better understanding the disease mechanisms, and strengthening clinical management.[33][34]

Science communication and public engagement[edit]

As the "Running Mad Professor" he has increased awareness of encephalitis, whilst also helping to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for the Encephalitis Society, for which he Chairs the Professional Advisory Panel.[7][35] At the 2010 London Marathon where he raised more than £20,000, he won a Guinness World Record for the fastest Marathon Dressed as a Doctor.[36][37] The "Running Mad Professor" video showing his training for the marathon has had more than 20,000 hits.[38]

He has given numerous public lectures, including the Shrewsbury School Scholars Day Lecture, 2012, and the Emry’s Jones Lecture at Merchant Taylors' School.[39][40] To increase public and patient involvement in the Institute of Infection and Global Health, he established the Saturday Science Programme at World Museum Liverpool.[41]

To mark the first World Encephalitis Day, creation of the Encephalitis Society, he initiated the "World’s Biggest Brain", winning a Guinness World Record for the largest human image of an organ.[42][43]

At TEDx Liverpool 2014, he gave a talk on "Sex, Drugs and Emerging Viruses",[44] appearing alongside Beermat Entrepreneur Mike Southon, and educationalist Sir Ken Robinson.[45]

Tom Solomon also writes for The Guardian and The Independent newspapers and The Conversation on issues relating to biomedical science, particularly on emerging infections, neuroscience, and women in science,[46][47][48][49] and appears on television and radio. He discussed the threat to the UK of Ebola virus with Andrew Neal on BBC Television’s The Sunday Politics.[50] On BBC Radio 4’s Great Lives he discussed the children’s author Roald Dahl, whose fascination with medical science impacted both on his life and his writing.[51]


  1. ^ "Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust |". Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  2. ^ a b Institute of Infection and Global Health, Liverpool Retrieved 2014-06-06
  3. ^ "Professor of Neurology Tom Solomon leads brain infection research".
  4. ^ a b NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infectionsl Retrieved 2014-09-04
  5. ^ "PATH Vaccine Library; University of Liverpool Viral Brain Infections Group". Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  6. ^ The Running Mad Professor on YouTube
  7. ^ a b The Encephalitis Society. Winter Newsletter 2013, page 8 Retrieved 2014-02-06
  8. ^ "University of Liverpool News. Battling the Brain Bugs at World Museum". Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  9. ^ Is this the World's Biggest Brain? on YouTube
  10. ^ "Newton G, editor. The Wellcome Trust Annual Review 1999. p. 6-9; London: The Wellcome Trust" (PDF). Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  11. ^ a b c British HIV Association, editor. BHIVA Autumn Conference 14-15 November 2013, Programme, Speaker Biographies, p27 "Tom Solomon" Retrieved 2014-06-02
  12. ^ Solomon T, Barrett AD (2003). Dengue. In: Nath A, Berger J, editors. Clinical Neurovirology. Marcel Decker, New York NY. pp. 469–516.
  13. ^ "Scientist wins pounds £1M fellowship to research brain viruses. The Free Library. 2006". Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  14. ^ "Liverpool Neurological Infectious Diseases Course". Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  15. ^ Kesavelu, Dhanasekhar (2009). "Liverpool neurological infectious diseases course". Careers. BMJ. 339: b3916. doi:10.1136/bmj.b3916.
  16. ^ "Sarah Logan. Neuro-ID 2012: Liverpool Neurological Infectious Diseases Course. Advances in Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation. 2012;12:27" (PDF). Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  17. ^ Sir Ronald Ross Grandson opens Ronald Ross Building, Institute of Infection and Global Health, Liverpool on YouTube
  18. ^ "University of Liverpool News: £7.5M for health protection research, University of Liverpool, UK". Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  19. ^ "University of Liverpool Annual Report 2014, page 32. Centres of Excellence Established" (PDF). Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  20. ^ Racaniello, Vincent (8 August 2014). "Zaire Ebolavirus in West Africa (Dr Tom Solomon interview)". This Week in Virology. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  21. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (14 March 2015). "The Guardian. Meet The Man Leading Britain's Fight Against Ebola". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  22. ^ "University of Liverpool News. Moxon Medal Awarded to Professor Tom Solomon". Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  23. ^ Solomon, T. (2000). "NEUROLOGICAL ASPECTS OF TROPICAL DISEASE: Japanese encephalitis". Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery. 68 (4): 405–415. doi:10.1136/jnnp.68.4.405. PMC 1736874. PMID 10727474.
  24. ^ Solomon, T.; Kneen, R.; Dung, N. M.; Khanh, V. C.; Thuy, T. T. N.; Ha, D. Q.; Day, N. P.; Nisalak, A.; Vaughn, D. W.; White, N. J. (1998). "Poliomyelitis-like illness due to Japanese encephalitis virus". The Lancet. 351 (9109): 1094–1097. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(97)07509-0. PMID 9660579.
  25. ^ Solomon, T.; Dung, N. M.; Vaughn, D. W.; Kneen, R.; Thao, L. T. T.; Raengsakulrach, B.; Loan, H. T.; Day, N. P.; Farrar, J.; Myint, K. S.; Warrell, M. J.; James, W. S.; Nisalak, A.; White, N. J. (2000). "Neurological manifestations of dengue infection". The Lancet. 355 (9209): 1053–1059. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(00)02036-5. PMID 10744091.
  26. ^ Solomon, T. (2003). "Origin and Evolution of Japanese Encephalitis Virus in Southeast Asia". Journal of Virology. 77 (5): 3091–3098. doi:10.1128/JVI.77.5.3091-3098.2003. PMC 149749. PMID 12584335.
  27. ^ Impoinvil, Daniel E. (2011). "The Spatial Heterogeneity between Japanese Encephalitis Incidence Distribution and Environmental Variables in Nepal". PLoS ONE. 6 (7): e22192. Bibcode:2011PLoSO...622192I. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022192. PMC 3141013. PMID 21811573.
  28. ^ Solomon, Tom (2006). "Control of Japanese Encephalitis — Within Our Grasp?". New England Journal of Medicine. 355 (9): 869–871. doi:10.1056/NEJMp058263. PMID 16943399.
  29. ^ Lewthwaite, Penny (2010). "Disability after encephalitis: development and validation of a new outcome score". Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 88 (8): 584–592. doi:10.2471/BLT.09.071357. PMC 2908971. PMID 20680123.
  30. ^ Solomon, Tom (2008). "A cohort study to assess the new WHO Japanese encephalitis surveillance standards". Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 86 (3): 178–186. doi:10.2471/BLT.07.043307. PMC 2647413. PMID 18368204.
  31. ^ Ooi, Mong How (2010). "Clinical features, diagnosis, and management of enterovirus 71". The Lancet Neurology. 9 (11): 1097–1105. doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(10)70209-X. PMID 20965438.
  32. ^ Solomon, Tom (2010). "Virology, epidemiology, pathogenesis, and control of enterovirus 71" (PDF). The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 10 (11): 778–790. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(10)70194-8. PMID 20961813.
  33. ^ Ooi, Mong How (2007). "Human Enterovirus 71 Disease in Sarawak, Malaysia: A Prospective Clinical, Virological, and Molecular Epidemiological Study". Clinical Infectious Diseases. 44 (5): 646–656. doi:10.1086/511073. PMID 17278054.
  34. ^ Griffiths, M. J. (2012). "In Enterovirus 71 Encephalitis With Cardio-Respiratory Compromise, Elevated Interleukin 1 , Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist, and Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor Levels Are Markers of Poor Prognosis". Journal of Infectious Diseases. 206 (6): 881–892. doi:10.1093/infdis/jis446. PMID 22829643.
  35. ^ "Encephalitis Society Professional Seminar 3rd December 2012, Programme" (PDF). Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  36. ^ "Liverpool Echo 6th May 2010 'Mad Professor' Tom Solomon sets new Guinness World record at London Marathon". 5 May 2010. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  37. ^ "Southport Visitor 6th March 2010. Crosby professor's marathon plight is a huge hit on You Tube". Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  38. ^ The Running Mad Professor on YouTube
  39. ^ "Shrewsbury School News, 29 February 2012. Scholars' Dinner 2012: 'Brain Attack'". 29 February 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  40. ^ "Merchant Taylors' Schools News". Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  41. ^ "University of Liverpool, News. 21st March 2013. Battling the brain bugs at the World Museum". Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  42. ^ "ITV Granada News 20th February 2014. Liverpool unites to make biggest brain in the world". Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  43. ^ Is this the world's biggest brain? on YouTube
  44. ^ Sex, Drugs & Emerging Viruses on YouTube
  45. ^ "TEDx Liverpool 2014 Speakers". Retrieved 6 August 2014.
  46. ^ "The Independent. Ebola outbreak: We're ready if the virus should turn into a threat in Britain". 7 October 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  47. ^ Solomon, Tom (4 February 2015). "The Guardian. Three-parent IVF can produce babies free of disease, so let's welcome it". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  48. ^ Solomon, Tom (26 November 2014). "The Guardian. How to create a better future for women in science". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  49. ^ "Tom Solomon - The Conversation". Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  50. ^ "BBC. Ebola threat to UK and Africa: Pollock and Solomon". Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  51. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Great Lives, Series 35, Roald Dahl". Retrieved 29 May 2015.

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