Tom Solomon (neurologist)

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Tom Solomon
Alma mater Wadham College, Oxford (BM BCh BA)
Scientific career
Thesis Central Nervous System Infections in Vietnam (2001)
Doctoral advisor
Other academic advisors David Weatherall

ProfessorThomas Solomon CBE MRCP DCH 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 (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections. [3] [4] [5] In 2021 he was elected Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences. [6]


He is a specialist in the study of emerging viruses, especially those which infect the brain. He heads the Liverpool Brain Infections Group [7] , which studies encephalitis (inflammation and swelling of the brain), particularly Japanese encephalitis, enterovirus 71 and other brain infections such as meningitis. [8] 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. [9] [10] [11] [12]

Early life and education

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 PhD was for studies on the 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). [13] 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. [14]

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. [15] 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. [14] [16]

He set up the Liverpool Neurological Infectious Diseases course in 2007, which has since run annually. [17] [18] [19] He was appointed Professor of Neurological Science in 2007, and in 2010 became Director of the newly formed Institute of Infection and Global Health. [14] [20] 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. [5] [21] [22] This unit works on a number of emerging infections, including the Ebola virus. [23] [24] 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". [25]

Solomon was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2021 Birthday Honours for services to neurological and emerging infections research. [26] [27]


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. [28] He showed that Japanese encephalitis virus can cause an illness with leg paralysis which could be confused for polio. [29] He also highlighted the importance of dengue, a related mosquito-borne virus, as a cause of neurological disease. [30] He works on the origins, evolution, and spread of Japanese encephalitis. [31] [32] He has played a major role in the global campaign to control Japanese encephalitis through vaccination. [33] This included developing the Liverpool Outcome Score for quantifying the disability caused by Japanese encephalitis [34] and helping produce the WHO Surveillance Standards for detecting the disease. [35] He is also an expert on enterovirus 71, which causes hand foot and mouth disease and encephalitis. [36] [37] He works on improving the diagnosis, better understanding the disease mechanisms, and strengthening clinical management. [38] [39]

Science communication and public engagement

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. [10] [40] 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. [41] [42] The "Running Mad Professor" video showing his training for the marathon has had more than 20,000 hits. [43]

He has given numerous public lectures, including the Shrewsbury School Scholars Day Lecture, 2012, and the Emry's Jones Lecture at Merchant Taylors' School. [44] [45] To increase public and patient involvement in the Institute of Infection and Global Health, he established the Saturday Science Programme at World Museum Liverpool. [46]

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. [47] [48]

At TEDx Liverpool 2014, he gave a talk on "Sex, Drugs and Emerging Viruses", [49] appearing alongside Beermat Entrepreneur Mike Southon, and educationalist Sir Ken Robinson. [50]

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, [51] [52] [53] [54] 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. [55] 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. [56]

Related Research Articles

Encephalitis Inflammation of the brain

Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain. The severity can be variable with symptoms including reduction or alteration in consciousness, headache, fever, confusion, a stiff neck, and vomiting. Complications may include seizures, hallucinations, trouble speaking, memory problems, and problems with hearing.

Viral meningitis Medical condition

Viral meningitis, also known as aseptic meningitis, is a type of meningitis due to a viral infection. It results in inflammation of the meninges. Symptoms commonly include headache, fever, sensitivity to light and neck stiffness.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common infection caused by a group of enteroviruses. It typically begins with a fever and feeling generally unwell. This is followed a day or two later by flat discolored spots or bumps that may blister, on the hands, feet and mouth and occasionally buttocks and groin. Signs and symptoms normally appear 3–6 days after exposure to the virus. The rash generally resolves on its own in about a week. Fingernail and toenail loss may occur a few weeks later, but they will regrow with time.

Borna disease, also known as sad horse disease, is an infectious neurological syndrome of warm-blooded animals, caused by Borna disease viruses 1 and 2 (BoDV-1/2). BoDV-1/2 are neurotropic viruses of the species Mammalian 1 orthobornavirus, and members of the Bornaviridae family within the Mononegavirales order.

Japanese encephalitis Infection of the brain caused by the Japanese encephalitis virus

Japanese encephalitis (JE) is an infection of the brain caused by the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV). While most infections result in little or no symptoms, occasional inflammation of the brain occurs. In these cases, symptoms may include headache, vomiting, fever, confusion and seizures. This occurs about 5 to 15 days after infection.

Nipah virus Species of virus

Nipah virus, scientific name Nipah henipavirus, is a bat-borne virus that causes Nipah virus infection in humans and other animals, a disease with a high mortality rate. Numerous disease outbreaks caused by Nipah virus have occurred in South and Southeast Asia. Nipah virus belongs to the genus Henipavirus along with the Hendra virus, which has also caused disease outbreaks.

Viral encephalitis is inflammation of the brain parenchyma, called encephalitis, by a virus. The different forms of viral encephalitis are called viral encephalitides. It is the most common type of encephalitis and often occurs with viral meningitis. Encephalitic viruses first cause infection and replicate outside of the central nervous system (CNS), most reaching the CNS through the circulatory system and a minority from nerve endings toward the CNS. Once in the brain, the virus and the host's inflammatory response disrupt neural function, leading to illness and complications, many of which frequently are neurological in nature, such as impaired motor skills and altered behavior.

Meningoencephalitis Medical condition

Meningoencephalitis, also known as herpes meningoencephalitis, is a medical condition that simultaneously resembles both meningitis, which is an infection or inflammation of the meninges, and encephalitis, which is an infection or inflammation of the brain.

Emerging infectious disease Infectious disease of emerging pathogen, often novel in its outbreak range or transmission mode

An emerging infectious disease (EID) is an infectious disease whose incidence has increased recently, and could increase in the near future. The minority that are capable of developing efficient transmission between humans can become major public and global concerns as potential causes of epidemics or pandemics. Their many impacts can be economic and societal, as well as clinical. EIDs have been increasing steadily since at least 1940. For every decade since 1940, there has been a consistent increase in the number of EID events from wildlife-related zoonosis. Human activity is the primary driver of this increase, with loss of biodiversity a leading mechanism.

The Central Nervous System controls most of the functions of the body and mind. It comprises the brain, spinal cord and the nerve fibers that branch off to all parts of the body. The Central Nervous System viral diseases are caused by viruses that attack the CNS. Existing and emerging viral CNS infections are major sources of human morbidity and mortality. Virus infections usually begin in the peripheral tissues, and can invade the mammalian system by spreading into the peripheral nervous system and more rarely the CNS. CNS is protected by effective immune responses and multi-layer barriers, but some viruses enter with high-efficiency through the bloodstream and some by directly infecting the nerves that innervate the tissues. Most viruses that enter can be opportunistic and accidental pathogens, but some like herpes viruses and rabies virus have evolved in time to enter the nervous system efficiently, by exploiting the neuronal cell biology. While acute viral diseases come on quickly, chronic viral conditions have long incubation periods inside the body. Their symptoms develop slowly and follow a progressive, fatal course.

W. Ian Lipkin Professor, microbiologist, epidemiologist

Walter Ian Lipkin is the John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and a professor of Neurology and Pathology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He is also director of the Center for Infection and Immunity, an academic laboratory for microbe hunting in acute and chronic diseases. Lipkin is internationally recognized for his work with West Nile virus, SARS and COVID-19.

Vaccine Research Center

The Vaccine Research Center (VRC), is an intramural division of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The mission of the VRC is to discover and develop both vaccines and antibody-based products that target infectious diseases.

Herpesviral encephalitis Encephalitis associated with herpes simplex virus

Herpesviral encephalitis, or herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE), is encephalitis due to herpes simplex virus. It is estimated to affect at least 1 in 500,000 individuals per year, and some studies suggest an incidence rate of 5.9 cases per 100,000 live births.

Favipiravir Experimental antiviral drug with potential activity against RNA viruses

Favipiravir, sold under the brand name Avigan among others, is an antiviral medication used to treat influenza in Japan. It is also being studied to treat a number of other viral infections, including SARS-CoV-2. Like the experimental antiviral drugs T-1105 and T-1106, it is a pyrazinecarboxamide derivative.

Post-Ebola virus syndrome Sequelae following recovery from Ebola virus disease

Post-Ebola virus syndrome is a post-viral syndrome affecting those who have recovered from infection with Ebola. Symptoms include joint and muscle pain, eye problems, including blindness, various neurological problems, and other ailments, sometimes so severe that the person is unable to work. Although similar symptoms had been reported following previous outbreaks in the last 20 years, health professionals began using the term in 2014 when referring to a constellation of symptoms seen in people who had recovered from an acute attack of Ebola disease.

The Liverpool Neurological Infectious Diseases Course is an annual two-day course aimed at medical professionals and students with an interest in neurological infectious diseases. The course is organised by the Liverpool Brain Infections Group, a division of the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool, in collaboration with the Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Trust, Royal Liverpool University Hospital, and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and is chaired by the neurologist Tom Solomon. It takes place during May at the historic Liverpool Medical Institution, in Liverpool, UK. A variety of both national and international speakers contribute to a programme which covers clinical aspects of common central nervous system infections such as meningitis and encephalitis, as well as rarer neurological infections and talks on recent advances in related research. The course is accredited by the UK Royal College of Physicians, and attracts delegates from many countries worldwide.

Nipah virus infection Disease caused by Nipah virus

A Nipah virus infection is a viral infection caused by the Nipah virus. Symptoms from infection vary from none to fever, cough, headache, shortness of breath, and confusion. This may worsen into a coma over a day or two, and 50 to 75% of those infected die. Complications can include inflammation of the brain and seizures following recovery.

1998–1999 Malaysia Nipah virus outbreak

The 1998–1999 Malaysia Nipah virus outbreak was a Nipah virus outbreak occurring from September 1998 to May 1999 in the states of Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Selangor in Malaysia. A total of 265 cases of acute encephalitis with 105 deaths caused by the virus were reported in the three states throughout the outbreak. The Malaysian health authorities at the first thought Japanese encephalitis (JE) was the cause of infection which hampered the deployment of effective measures to prevent the spread before being finally identified by a local virologist from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya that it was a newly discovered agent named Nipah virus (NiV). The disease was as deadly as the Ebola virus disease (EVD), but attacked the brain system instead of the blood vessels. University of Malaya's Faculty of Medicine and the University of Malaya Medical Centre played a major role in serving as a major referral centre for the outbreak, treating majority of the Nipah patients and was instrumental in isolating the novel virus and researched on its features.

Nahid Bhadelia Indian-American infectious diseases physician and researcher

Nahid Bhadelia is an American infectious-diseases physician, founding director of Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Policy and Research (CEID), an associate director at National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) at Boston University, and an associate professor at the Boston University School of Medicine.

Ava Easton

Ava Easton is a health scientist and researcher who specialises in encephalitis, acquired brain injury and narrative medicine, and is considered a world expert in her field of Encephalitis patient outcomes and quality of life. She is the current Chief Executive of The Encephalitis Society, a non-profit organisation which provides support and resources for those affected by the neurological disease of Encephalitis, and collaborates with various organisations on research into the disease.


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  2. Liverpool Retrieved 2022-08-08
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  29. 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. S2CID   25582861.
  30. 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. S2CID   21731410.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. 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. S2CID   17505751.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
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  52. 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.
  53. Solomon, Tom (26 November 2014). "The Guardian. How to create a better future for women in science". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
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