The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) is a committee which advises the Board of Trustees (BoT) on Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research's (SMSR) research strategy; reviews grant award applications and makes recommendations to the BoT about which applications to take forward.  Final funding decisions on grant applications are made by the BoT.

The SAB meets regularly and is currently chaired by Dr Joost van Middendorp, Medical Research Liaison Europe at Argenx and former Research Director, SMSR.

Members of the SAB

Dr Joost van Middendorp, Medical Research Liaison Europe at Argenx, Belgium

Chair of the SAB

Dr Joost van Middendorp currently works as a Medical Research Liaison for argenx, a Belgium-based biotech company.

Back in 2007, Dr van Middendorp graduated in Medicine from Utrecht University, the Netherlands. He was then offered a position as a PhD-student in clinical spinal trauma research at the Radboud University Medical Centre Nijmegen, the Netherlands. After three years of work, Dr van Middendorp received his PhD degree, cum laude, for his thesis on the prognosis and classification of spinal column and spinal cord injuries. Afterwards he worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Queensland University of Technology and the department of Traumatology at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane in Australia. During this time, he completed his Masters in Clinical Epidemiology, which was awarded with high distinction. In March 2012, Dr van Middendorp became the first research director of Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research. He was a senior research fellow of the Harris Manchester College at the University of Oxford, UK. In 2015, Dr van Middendorp started working in the biopharmaceutical sector where he led Medical Affairs activities for Pfizer, Sobi and currently argenx.

In his early career, Dr van Middendorp published a number of studies in renowned journals, including The Lancet, and has been awarded over £1m worth of research grants from both national and international competitive funding bodies.

Professor Sue Barnett, Professor of Cellular Neuroscience, University of Glasgow, UK


Professor Barnett gained her PhD at the Institute of Cancer Research in Sutton, was visiting Fogarty Fellow at NIH, in Bethesda, USA, obtained a Wellcome Trust University Award, and was an MS Society Senior Research Fellow.  Her post-doctoral training position was at the Ludwig Institute in London, where she gained her experience in neuroscience and glial cell biology as well as regenerative medicine and cell transplantation as a strategy for CNS repair.  She also, identified a method to purify and grow olfactory ensheathing cells and was a co-author on one of the first papers to transplant oligodendrocyte progenitor cells into a rat model of CNS injury (Nature 362:453-5).  She is Post Graduate Convenor of the Institute, member of the scientific committee for International Spinal Research Trust, Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research and sits on the MRS studentship panel and reviews for a wide range of grant funders and Journals.  She is on the editorial board for Glia.  She has maintained her research group by external funding since 1990.

Research Interests

Professor Sue Barnett leads a Glial Cell Biology Group at the University of Glasgow.  Her research interests focus on identifying strategies for CNS repair, particularly on cell transplantation and human and rodent stem cell biology.  She is an expert on the culture of primary rodent/murine neural cells and establishing complex cultures to study aspects of neural development, spinal cord injury and remyelination.  She is also interested on heparin sulphate proteologycans as a target to promote CNS repair.  She currently has an interest in how zika virus affects the growth and differentiation of both CNS and PNS neural cells.

Christa Dyson, (Patient Representative) Senior Vice Chair and Trustee, Spinal Injuries Association, UK

Christa has 26 years lived experience as an incomplete tetraplegic following a spinal stroke whilst then living in The Netherlands.  She is an unsteady walker but has no hand function.  She has a background as  a Biologist and industry research experience. For the past seven years she has been a trustee for the Spinal Injuries Association, most recently as Vice Chair.  She mentors for the Back Up Trust.  She has had close links with Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research having been a patient representative for the research priority setting partnership work undertaken with the James Lind Alliance.  She has a keen interest in promoting research as may improve the quality of life of those living with a spinal cord injury and is delighted to be invited as a patient representative for the Scientific Advisory Board.

Dr Alan McLean, Consultant in Spinal Cord Medicine, Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit, Glasgow, UK 

Dr Alan McLean is Consultant in Spinal Injury and Lead Clinician at the Scottish National Spinal Injuries Unit in Glasgow, Scotland.  His Unit looks after over one hundred newly paralysed patients annually and is responsible for life long care of 2,500 people in Scotland with spinal cord injury.

He has published over sixty peer-reviewed articles on spinal cord injury.  Interests include the use of functional electrical stimulation in spinal respiratory care, and the medical management of acute spinal cord injured patients.

His Unit has strong collaboration with the local universities and hosts a research centre within the NHS facility making this a unique base for acute spinal cord injury research.

Publications can be found on Google Scholar at Alan N McLean.  Institution details at

Mr Pradeep Thumbikat, Consultant in Spinal Injuries, Princess Royal Spinal Cord Injuries Centre, Sheffield, UK 

Pradeep is a Consultant in Spinal Injuries at The Princess Royal Spinal Injuries Centre in Sheffield.  Following an initial period of training in Orthopaedics, he moved into the filed of spinal cord injury rehabilitation, undertaking specialist training in Sheffield.  He started as a Consultant in 2006.  He has been involved with several portfolio studies.  Areas of special interest include tetraplegic upper limb, pressure ulcer management and paediatric spinal cord injury.

Dr Giorgio Scivoletto, Coordinator Spinal Cord Unit, Foundation Santa Lucia, Rome, Italy

Giorgio Scivoletto (Neurologist, Physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, PhD in Advanced Technology in Rehabilitation Medicine) is the Coordinator of the Spinal Cord Unit within the Neurorehabilitation Clinical Unit A and the Head of the Spinal Rehabilitation (SpiRe)  Lab within the same unit. He authored more than 100 papers published on indexed journals (H index=33), several book chapters and contributions to conferences. He serves as reviewer for several indexed journals and is member of the Editorial Board of Spinal Cord. He has been involved in several national and international research projects. His research is focused on the study of the outcomes of spinal cord injury patients and of the evaluation scales for these patients. He is the Chair of the Scientific Committee of the International Spinal Cord Society and the Vice-President of the Italian Spinal Cord Society (SIMS).