Prof. Bolam graduated in pharmacology at Chelsea College (University of London) in 1975. He then took up a graduate studentship at King's College Hospital Medical School (University of London) examining the role of platelets in inflammatory responses; he was awarded his PhD in 1979. The same year he joined the Department of Pharmacology as Departmental Demonstrator and remained in the post until 1983 when he was awarded an MRC Senior Research Fellowship. With the establishment of the Anatomical Neuropharmacology Unit in 1985 Dr. Bolam joined as a Senior Neurocytologist.
With his arrival in Oxford, Dr. Bolam changed fields of research from inflammatory mechanisms to join a team working on the anatomy and neuropharmacology of the basal ganglia and has continued in this field ever since. He received the title, Professor of Anatomical Neuropharmacology from the University of Oxford in 1996. He is a member of the Editorial Board of Synapse, an Advisory Editor of Trends in Neuroscience, and serves on the Medical Advisory Board of the MRC and the Research Advisory Panel of the Parkinson's Disease Society. In 2011 he was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.