Paul Thompson

Directs the ENIGMA Center for Worldwide Medicine

NIH ENIGMA Center for Worldwide Medicine, New York, USA

Paul Thompson, Ph.D., directs the ENIGMA Center for Worldwide Medicine, Imaging & Genomics – a U.S. National Center of Excellence for “Big Data” analysis in biomedical research. In 2009, Dr Thompson co-founded and leads the ENIGMA consortium (, a worldwide medical network of 340 institutions across 37 countries studying the major diseases of the brain. ENIGMA has published the largest neuroimaging studies of 5 major brain disorders – schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, ADHD and OCD – and also leads international studies of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, as well as PTSD, anorexia, substance use, and anxiety disorders. In ENIGMA’s series of papers in Nature, Nature Neuroscience, and Nature Communications, 340 institutions pooled their DNA and MRI data to identify over a hundred genomic loci that influence brain structure and disease risk using massively-parallel distributed “big data” computing (Medland Nature Neuroscience 2015). ENIGMA discovers factors that affect the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, schizophrenia, depression and bipolar illness, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, autism, and childhood brain disorders. Dr. Thompson’s group also created the first MRI maps of Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia spreading in the living brain, and a method to detect brain growth in children (published in the journal Nature). Thompson also directs the Imaging Genetics Center and serves as Associate Director of the new Stevens Institute for Neuroimaging and Informatics at the University of Southern California. At USC, he is a Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry, Radiology, Pediatrics, Engineering, and Ophthalmology. Dr. Thompson obtained his M.A. in Mathematics and Classical Languages from Oxford University, England, and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from UCLA. His team of 30 researchers includes students in neuroscience, genomics, biomedical engineering, and biomedical physics. Collaborating with over 100 imaging labs around the world, Dr. Thompson’s 1,600 published research papers combine the talents of researchers in neuroimaging, mathematics, and clinical neurology (see