Professor Michael (Mike) Polkey is a consultant respiratory physician at Royal Brompton Hospital, where he treats private and NHS patients.

Alongside his clinical work, he is an academic and has the role of professor of respiratory medicine at Imperial College London.

As part of his private practice, he has visited the Gulf states extensively to both provide second opinions and act as a visiting professor in Qatar and Kuwait. Notably, on one occasion he appeared on a popular local TV show, Good Morning Kuwait!

Clinical expertise

Professor Michael Polkey specialises in treating a number of conditions:

In particular, he is an expert in:

Research interests

Professor Michael Polkey is deputy director of the respiratory biomedical research unit at Royal Brompton Hospital, which is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

He has experience in acquiring and directing multi-centre research grants.

His research interests particularly focus around COPD, including:

  • investigating aspects of COPD, particularly skeletal muscle weakness, which contribute to symptoms in COPD
  • the role of inflammation in manifestations, principally muscle and cardiovascular, which occur outside the lung in COPD
  • exercise performance as a biomarker and outcome in COPD
  • developing a patient reported outcome tool for physical activity in COPD.

He says:

"New treatments for COPD are likely to give benefit in ways other than by expanding the airways. To measure the effects of these treatments we need new instruments like the one we are developing."

Professor Polkey also collaborates internationally. He has a close working relationship with the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Disease, China, and has taken part in joint study visits and research projects. He has collaborated with Professor Luo from the Ministry on Physiological Studies looking at what happens to breathing muscles during sleep. With Professor Luo, he is a recipient of a grant award from the Chinese Ministry of Health.


Professor Michael Polkey has published over 195 peer reviewed scientific articles.

He is associate editor of two journals, the European Respiratory Journal and Clinical Science. He sits on the editorial board of Skeletal Muscle and the COPD Journal. He reviews for all major respiratory journals and UK grant awarding bodies.


As part of his role as a professor of respiratory medicine at Imperial College London, Professor Michael Polkey supervises and examines PhD students.

Professor Polkey and his team train a number of overseas students at Royal Brompton Hospital, including junior doctors from as far afield as Greece and Siberia.    

He is in demand globally as a speaker and has spoken at the American Thoracic Society, the European Respiratory Society and at the Asian Pacific Congress of Respirology. He has been visiting Professor in Lexington, Kentucky, USA and in Doha, Qatar.