Dr Nicholas Hopkinson qualified in medicine at Cambridge University and the London Hospital Medical College and went on to train in respiratory and general internal medicine at St George’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals.

Areas of expertise

Dr Hopkinson is clinical lead for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at Royal Brompton Hospital. This includes systematic evaluation of patients within a multidisciplinary team and addressing issues such as:

  • Hypoxia 
  • recurrent exacerbations
  • alpha one antitrypsin deficiency
  • early onset disease. 

The service ensures that COPD patients have access to new techniques for lung volume reduction through both surgery and bronchoscopies.

Dr Hopkinson started a clinic to help stop smoking within the Trust and is responsible for developing pulmonary rehabilitation services as well as the Trust's Breathe Easy Support Group.

He is a member of the London Respiratory Clinical Leadership Group and active in tobacco control advocacy, including being a member of the advisory group of The Smoke Free Action Coalition.

Research interests

His major research interest looks at the causes of exercise limitation in patients with COPD, and his publications have looked at the:

  • effect of pulmonary rehabilitation 
  • influence of genetic polymorphisms
  • corticosteroid therapy
  • role of acute exacerbations on skeletal muscle impairment on this condition.

Dr Hopkinson has published work on the impact of bronchoscopic lung volume reduction on dynamic hyperinflation in patients with COPD, and on transcranial magnetic stimulation of the diaphragm motor cortex in health and disease. Techniques he uses include invasive measurement of respiratory pressures, cardiopulmonary exercise testing and the use of magnetic nerve stimulation to obtain non-volitional measures of muscle function. 

Working with the NW London Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research (CLAHRC), Dr Hopkinson has developed a more systematic card bundle for COPD patients as they are discharged. He has published work on tobacco uptake among children and in support of tobacco control measures, such as standardised packaging.

Dr Hopkinson is also involved in research with Imperial College London’s Centre for Pervasive Sensing, to develop more sophisticated integrated physiology and activity sensors to monitor patients in their home environment.

Dr Hopkinson’s work has been funded by the:

  • Medical Research Council
  • Wellcome Trust
  • European Union
  • British Lung Foundation
  • Moulton Foundation.

He has collaborated on a considerable body of research with Professor Mike Polkey, Professor John Moxham (King’s College Hospital), Dr Nick Hart (St Thomas) as the London Respiratory Muscle Group. He has also collaborated with Professor Hugh Montgomery (University College Hospital).

On an international scale, Dr Hopkinson is part of a European research collaboration developing a patient-reported outcome for physical activity in COPD (PROactive) and has worked with Chilean physicians on techniques to improve exercise levels in patients with that condition. He has also worked with Iranian physicians to improve the care, in particular through pulmonary rehabilitation, of victims of mustard gas from the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.


Dr Hopkinson is a member of the Council of the British Thoracic Society, serving as Chair of its Specialist Advisory Group on COPD, as well as serving on its Science and Research Committee and the Nominations Committee. 

He is also a member of the European Respiratory Society and a Fellow of The Royal College of Physicians.

In December 2018, he was appointed as medical director of the British Lung Foundation. Read more about his appointment

Also see Dr Hopkinson's profile at the National Heart and Lung Institute - including a list of his publications

You can follow Dr Hopkinson on Twitter: @COPDdoc