Sheffield Institute for
Translational Neuroscience

Dr Robin Highley DPhil FRCPath

Senior Clinical Lecturer in Neuropathology

Research Interests

I am interested in the neuropathology and pathophysiology of neurodegeneration, in particular motor neurone disease (MND), Parkinson’s disease and dementia. I use standard neuropathological techniques to characterize post mortem tissue kindly donated by individuals with these diseases and to highlight contrasts with tissue from people who were free from disease. These methods are used to study genes, proteins and molecular pathways of interest and the pathological effects of gene mutations known to neurodegeneration.

I study mouse, zebrafish and cellular models of disase and the comparison of these with human tissue based pathology.

Teaching Interests

I teach neuropathology and neuroanatomy to medical students, MSc students and post graduate clinical neuroscientists.

Current Projects

  1. The pathobiology and neuropathology of C9ORF72-mediated MND
  2. Oligodendrocyte disease and function in MND
  3. TIGAR-related pathology in Parkinson’s disease
  4. Zebrafish models of Parkinson’s disease
  5. The relationship between pathological and radiological measures of white matter in vascular dementia.


Key Publications

  1. Kirby J*, Highley JR*, Cox L, Goodall EF, Hewitt C, Hartley JA, Hollinger, HC, Fox M, Ince PG, McDermott CJ, Shaw PJ. Lack of unique neuropathology in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis associated with p.K54E angiogenin (ANG) mutation. Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology (in press).
  2. Ismail A, Cooper-Knock J, Highley JR, Milano A, Kirby J, Lowe J, Constantinescu CS, Walters SJ, Price S, McDermott CJ, Sawcer S, Compston DAS, Sharrack B, Shaw PJ. Concurrence of multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in patients with hexanucleotide repeat expansions of C9ORF72. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2013;84(1):79-87.
  3. Cooper-Knock J*, Hewitt C*, Highley JR*, Brockington A, Milano A, Man S, Martindale J, Hartley J, Walsh T, Gelsthorpe C, Baxter L, Forster G, Fox M, Bury J, Mok K, McDermott CJ, Traynor BJ, Kirby J, Wharton SB, Ince PG, Hardy J, Shaw P. Clinico-pathological features in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with expansions in C9ORF72. Brain. 2012;135(3):751-764. *Joint first authors.
  4. Ince PG, Highley JR, Kirby J, Wharton SB, Takahashi H, Strong MJ, Shaw PJ. Molecular pathology and genetic advances in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: an emerging molecular pathway and the significance of glial pathology. Acta Neuropathol. 2011; 122(6):657-671.


I graduated in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oxford in 1993 and subsequently completed a DPhil in Oxford studying the neuropathology of Schizophrenia from which I completed in 1997. I then trained in medicine at the University of Birmingham from 1997-2002. Following this, I moved to Sheffield, to train in neuropathology, gaining the European Fellowship of Neuropathology in 2008 and FRCPath in 2009. On completing this training in 2009, I took up an MRC/Motor Neurone Disease Association Lady Edith Wolfson Fellowship to study motor neurone disease. I became a Senior Clinical Lecturer in Neuropathology in 2012. I also work as a Consultant Neuropathologist for the South and East Yorkshire Neuropathology Network, which provides diagnostic neuropathology services to the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust.

Contact Details

Department of Neuroscience
Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience
University of Sheffield
Room B28
385a Glossop Road
S10 2HQ

T: +44 (0) 114 22244
F: +44 (0)114 2222290