has spent his entire career in brain tumour research, having started work on chemical neuro-carcinogenesis where he studied brain cancer stem cells and brain tumour development at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School in the early 1970s and subsequently spent 23 years at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London, latterly as Professor of Experimental Neuro-oncology.
In 2003 he moved to the School of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences, University of Portsmouth, as Professor of Cellular & Molecular Neuro-oncology & Director of Research. He also now headed the Portsmouth Brain Tumour Research Centre, the largest laboratory-based Centre of its kind in the UK.
Over the years the research focus of his group has been development human models for the study of intrinsic brain tumours, elucidation of the mechanisms underlying diffuse local invasive behaviour in glioma, delivery systems for passage of agents across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and development of novel strategies for mitochondrial mediation of apoptosis in glioma. He has published numerous papers on the results of his research on human glioma and has developed various “all human” three-dimensional in vitro models to study brain tumour invasion, drug efficacy and the role of the BBB in drug delivery and cancer metastasis.
At the University of Portsmouth, he established an excellent suite of laboratories and a host of state-of-the-art equipment in which to accommodate the Brain Tumour Research Centre from which he retired in December 2018.
He holds a BSc (2.1) in Life Sciences and a PhD in Neuropathology (University of London) and is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, a Fellow of the Institute of Science and Technology and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. He is also a Past-President of the British Neuro-oncology Society and former Honorary Treasurer, Executive Board Member and Scientific Board Member of the European Association of Neuro-oncology. In addition, he holds membership of the British Neuroscience Association, the British Neuropathological Society (formally a committee member and Programme Secretary), the Society of Neuro-oncology (USA), and the European Association for Cancer Research. He was instrumental in the formation of Brain Tumour UK (now integrated into The Brain Tumour Charity) and served as advisor to Brainstrust, Ali’s Dream and Charlie’s Challenge, as well as formerly holding membership of the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust (now The Brain Tumour Charity) Scientific & Medical Advisory Board and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Children with Cancer UK as well as Animal Free Research UK. Moreover, he has worked closely with Hammer Out (now Brain Tumour Support) and the Brain Tumour Research Campaign.
He has supervised over 30 PhD students and has examined an additional 35 at various universities, both nationally and internationally, he was formerly Neuro-oncology Editor for Oncology News and served on the Editorial Boards of five journals. He has also acted as a referee for 60 journals and 42 grant awarding bodies in Europe, North America, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore. He is also a regular attendee at All Party Parliamentary Group meetings at Westminster and has served on expert advisory panels on drug repurposing and brain tumour research funding.
Professor Pilkington is currently a Scientific Advisor to the Safer Medicines Trust and a Scientific Trustee of Animal Free Research UK as well as the Childhood Cancer Charity. He also holds a Visiting Professorship at the Cardiff University and an Honorary Professorship at Kings College London.