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Professor Peter Garrard

Professor of Neurology
I am an Honorary Consultant Neurologist at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

My research focuses on the effects of neurodenerative disorders on spoken and written language; I use computational methods including machine learning and natural language processing in order to acquire and understand the big datasets of interest (such as large text collections, speeches, etc.).  My interests include retrospective language analysis of language samples and texts, including those from historical figures.

Professor Garrard took up his current position at St George's in March 2010. In 2007, following six years at UCL, he was offered a senior academic position at the University of Southampton's School of Medicine. Since moving to St George's he has established a specialist service for the assessment, diagnosis and management of people with atypical dementia syndromes.

Many of the patients seen in his clinic are recruited into neuroimaging projects aimed at improving diagnosis and monitoring of dementia, understanding the biological basis of progressive cognitive dysfunction (particularly language), and contributing to the development of effective disease modifying treatments.

Professor Garrard's first appointment as a consultant neurologist was at the National Hospital, Queen Square, where he followed up his doctoral research as MRC Clinician Scientist Fellow at the Institute of Neurology. He led the conceptual knowledge research group in the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, studying semantic organisation and temporal lobe imaging in patients with semantic dementia (loss of memory for word meaning and concept knowledge).

Professor Garrard is an Honorary Consultant Neurologist at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Kings Oak Hospital, Enfield. He provides medico-legal neurology expertise in the areas of negligence, mental capacity, and head injury.

Professor Garrard is an Associate Editor of Cortex and the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. He is a trustee of the Daedalus Trust (a charity to promote research into organisational learning and ‘Hubris syndrome’ in politics and the workplace), and the Neuroscience Research Foundation.

Professor Garrard's primary research interest is in the early language changes associated with neurodegenerative dementias (such as Alzheimer's diease and frontotemporal dementia), and neuropsychiatric conditions.

He is particularly interested in the application of computational neurolinguistic approaches, and in retrospective studies focusing on the emergence of disease signatures in large longitudinal samples (corpus linguistics).

His studies of language change in pre-symptomatic archived samples of writing and speech in creative writing and political discourse have received worldwide media attention and attracted major grant funding awards from the MRC. Notable subjects have included King George III, the novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch, and the politicians Harold Wilson, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.

Analysis of a corpus of diary writing spanning the sixth to ninth decades of life, donated by individuals with a variety of cognitive histories (including late onset Alzheimer's disease and healthy ageing) is currently in progress.

2017 - 2020

Medical Research Council – Research Grant

A standardized, multilingual, Mini Linguistic State Examination (MLSE) for classifying and monitoring Primary Progressive Aphasia

£1,140,216 [Principal Applicant]

2017 - 2020

European Commission – Horizon 2020 Award

Integration and analysis of heterogeneous big data for precision medicine and suggested treatments for different types of patients (IASIS)

€660,000 (of €4,337,475) [Consortium member]

2016 – 2020

Medical Research Council – London Intercollegiate Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship Award

Digital Discourse as Clinical Data

[Principal supervisor]

2016 – 2019

Alzheimer's Society – Project Grant

Whole genome sequencing in patients and families with dementia: building an open access UK resource

£99,995 [Co-Applicant]

2014 – 2015

St George's Neuroscience Research Foundation

Subclinical semantic deficits in autoimmune conditions: a pilot study.

£12,500 [Sole Applicant]

2012-2014 

Leverhulme Trust – Project Grant

Building an 18th Century semantic space to analyse the correspondence of King George III.

£110,000 [Principal Applicant]

2012-2015

SGUL Enterprise Fund

Diagnostic Network Analysis of Brain Imaging in Dementia.

14,500 [Joint Principal Applicant]

2010-2011

Medical Research Council – Discipline Hopping Award

Perseverometry: a novel performance marker in dementia.

£89,093 [Principal Applicant]

2009-2012

Medical Research Council – Research Grant

Cognitive archaeology: identifying and measuring the presymptomatic phase of dementia.

£518,459 [Principal Applicant]

2001-2005

Medical Research Council – Clinician Scientist Fellowship Award

Exploring the neural basis of semantic memory using magnetic resonance spectroscopy

£650,000 [Personal Fellowship]

Medical Research Council

Wellcome Trust

Collaborations

  • Prof Hugh Markus: Stroke and Dementia Research Centre, St George's. University of London

  • Prof Matthew Lambon Ralph: Neuroscience and Aphasia Research Unit (NARU), University of Manchester, UK.

    Investigating temporal lobe dysfunction in patients with CADASIL

  • Dr Atticus Hainsworth: Stroke and Dementia Research Centre, SGUL. Neurobiology of vascular cognitive impairment

  • Dr Celeste de Jager: The Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing (OPTIMA) – John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. Cognitive Archaeology: detecting and measuring the presymptomatic phase of neurodegenerative dementa.

  • Dr Anna Barney: Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR), University of Southampton, UK. Perseverometry: developing and testing a novel device for monitoring repetitive speech patterns in patients with episodic memory disorders. 

  • Dr Marilu Gorno-Tempini: UCSF Memory and Ageing Center,  San Francisco, CA, USA

  • Dr Stephen Wilson: Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA. Using a novel algorithm rapidly to analyse connected speech, coupled with structural imaging in a sample of semantic dementia patients from the USA.

  • Prof Timothy Peters: Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, University of Birmingham, UK

  • Dr Brita Elvevag: NIMH/NIH Bethesda, MD, USA. Using textual analysis algorithms such as latent semantic analysis to detect and measure changes in the language of King George III and other historical figures.

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