Sheffield Institute for
Translational Neuroscience

Dr Daniel Blackburn BSc MBChB MRCP PhD

Senior Lecturer & Honorary Consultant Neurologist

Research Interests

My research interests are into developing non-invasive scalable diagnostic tests for early dementia or cognitive impairment. I am investigating novel mechanisms of diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, post-stroke dementia and other dementias using automated assessment of language & electroencephalography (EEG).

I co-lead the development of CognoSpeakTM ( with Heidi Christensen from UoS Department of Computer Science ( This is an automated assessment of Cognition that can be undertaken in people’s own homes. We have several on-going grants to develop this for use in Memory Assessment Pathways (MAP) and in the post-stroke population

 I am working on novel resting state EEG processing approach to detect cognitive impairment.

I am investigating the utility of telematics to assess driving safety.

I also have a research interest in the role of astrocytes in neurodegeneration. My PhD investigated this in MND and I am part of a team investigating an in-vitro model of sporadic AD using inducible Neural Precursor Technology to grow astrocytes and neurones from people with sporadic AD and assay metabolic markers.

Current Projects

  • UKRI ISCF Healthy Ageing Catalyst Award 2020; Understanding elderly drivers' behaviour and fitness to drive. £62,500
  • Rosetrees Charity INTERDISCIPLINARY PRIZE 2019
  • MEDICINE WITH MATHEMATICS / COMPUTING / ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE COMPutational Assessment of Stroke Survivors (COMPASS) £250,000 (co-funded with Knowledge Exchange,(UoS), Clinical Research Network Yorkshire & Humber,
  • Health & Care Partnership, Sheffield. Remote monitoring people with Mild Cognitive Impairment using combined technology of the Digital Doctor and ViVA  £24,774 2019-2021.
  • Health Education England/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic Programme Internship Scheme 2019/20. £8000. Zoe Unwin, EEG physiologist.
  • Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) Pump Priming Award Notification (£7,000), 2018. Investigating potential of QEEG and digital doctor in memory assessment pathways in Kenya
  • Medical Research Council Confidence in Concept. COCOA (COmputerised Cognitive Assessment) – proof-of-concept. 2018-19. £49,513
  • 4wardNorth Wellcome Academy PhD Training Fellowship to fund Dr Simon Bell’s PhD project- Characterising astrocyte metabolic deficits in sporadic and familial AD to identify new therapeutic targets. 2018-2020.
  • Neuroscience Research fund- Ryder Briggs (£32,000) March 2017-19. Developing qEEG as biomarker in fronto-temporal dementia.
  • ARUK: ARUK-PPG2018A-009:  Neutrophil derived microvesicles: linking systemic inflammation and dementia. PI Julie Simpson. 2018-19.
  • Neuroscience small grant from Sheffield teaching Hospital’s- to fund Academic Clinical Fellow Ronan O’Malley develop the Avatar project to analyse semantic and letter fluency using Automatic Speech Recognition- 2018. (£3200)
  • Alzheimer research UK Preparatory Clinical Research Fellowship (ARUK-PCRF2016A-1: £69998- Jan 2016). Creating an Astrocyte model of Alzheimer’s disease using induced Neural Progenitor Cell Technology PI is Simon Bell who is my academic clinical fellow I am supervising. Collaboration with Professor Stephen Wharton, Drs Laura Ferraiuolo and Heather Mortiboys.
  • NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme. 14/140/80 Journeying through dementia; randomised controlled trial of clinical and cost effectiveness. 2015-2019. (£2,017,925).  Collaboration with ScHARR and Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust
  • NIHR Research Design Service Yorkshire and Humber (RDS YH) public involvement in grant application to develop Public and patient acceptability and co-design input on the Avatar project (£480) 2018.
  • Medical Research Council Proximity to Discovery (MRC P2D: £4,988). Development of a novel biomarker for dementia diagnosis based on quantitative electroencephalography (qEEG).2015-2016. Collaboration between neurophysiology and a commercial partner the BlackBox Toolkit company
  • Alzheimer’s Research United Kingdom (ARUK-PPG20114B-25) 2014-2016 (£29,805). Plus Yorkshire branch of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust Network. 2015 (£4000). Both ARUK grants are for ‘Developing a new biomarker for the early diagnosis of dementia; a novel non-linear signal processing approach using resting state EEG’
  • NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme: PB-PG-0211-24079 – Using Conversation Analysis in the Differential Diagnosis of Memory Problems: a pilot study. 2013-2015. (£230,000).

Research Team

I co-supervise Katy Barnes with Heather Mortiboys- investigating mitochondrial & metabolic dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease.

I co-supervise Yilin Pan with Heidi Christensen on the development of the automated conversation analysis tool- Digital Doctor of Jenna Littlejohn

I co-supervise two Neurology Academic Clinical fellows:

  1. Dr Simon Bell – has been funded by ARUK, NIHR Sheffield BRC and now Wellcome 4ward north Academy investigating models of sporadic AD using i-astrocytes.
  2. Dr Ronan O’Malley working on the Digital Doctor programme.


Professional Activities

  • Secretary of the Special Interest Group in Cognitive Disorders – Association of British Neurologists
  • Member of the Training and Education Committee - Association of British Neurologists
  • Member of the Translational Neuropsychology Group, University of Sheffield led by Professor Annalena Venneri
  • Member of the South Yorkshire Interest Group in Dementia.
  • I am a module leader the MSc in Clinical Neurology 


I completed my undergraduate medical degree in Liverpool in 1998 and did my medical training in London.  I have worked as a neurology SpR in Singapore and Nottingham prior to joining the University of Sheffield as a PhD student in 2005.  I worked as a clinical lecturer in neurology from 2010-2013 and started as consultant neurology in 2013 before taking up my Senior Lecturer post in 2017.  My main subspecialty interest is in dementia.

Teaching Interests

I am co- module leader on two parts of the MSc in Clinical Neurology and lead the research projects module.  I helped set up this MSc and develop the curriculum and teaching components.  I teach undergraduate medical students.

Contact Details

Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience,
University of Sheffield, 
385A Glossop Road
S10 2HQ

T: +44 (0) 114 215 9101

Academic Administrator:
Bethany Walker
T: +44 (0)114 22 22262