Sheffield Institute for
Translational Neuroscience

Dr Heather Mortiboys PhD

Senior Lecturer/Senior Research Fellow

Research Interests

The main focus of my lab is mitochondria in neurodegenerative diseases, primarily focused on Parkinson’s Disease. This encompasses mitochondrial function, DNA, morphology and recycling. My research focuses on both trying to further the understanding of the causes of mitochondrial problems in neurodegenerative conditions and in vitro drug screening for molecules which rescue mitochondrial function in patient tissue. The lab has also recently become interested in investigating these mitochondrial abnormalities in Alzheimer’s Disease patient derived cells. It is interesting to investigate the differing mitochondrial phenotypes between neurodegenerative diseases and the mechanisms by which they occur and potentially drive neuronal vulnerability.

Current Projects

  • Targeting mitochondrial dysfunction with novel small molecules in Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Repurposing of compounds for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease
  • LRRK2 and mitochondria – what is the connection?
  • Differing types of mitophagy in neurons
  • Targeting mitophagy with small molecules in Parkinson’s Disease
  • What are the metabolic abnormalities in Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Mitochondrial morphological abnormalities in patient derived models of Alzheimer’s Disease

Research Collaborations

Within Sheffield: Dr Laura Ferraiuolo, Prof Oliver Bandmann, Dr Kurt De Vos

Outside of Sheffield: Prof Sylvie Urbe (University of Liverpool), Prof Mike Clague (University of Liverpool), Dr Liz New (University of Sydney), Prof Joanna Poulton (University of Oxford)

My research is currently funded by Parkinson’s UK, MRC, Wellcome Trust, several industrial partners,  Rosetree’s Trust and the White Rose Consortium.

Research Team

My current research group consists of:

Postdoctoral Research Associates

  • Dr Fernanda Martins-Lopes
  • Dr Elizabeth Stephens
  • Dr Helen Rowland

Research Assistants

  • Aurelie Schwartzentruber
  • Tom Leah

PhD students

  • Christopher Hastings
  • Ruby Macdonald
  • Simon Bell
  • Katy Barnes
  • Rachel Hughes


  1. Bell SM, Barnes K, Clemmens H, Al-Rafiah AR, Al-Ofi EA, Leech V, Bandmann O, Shaw PJ, Blackburn DJ, Ferraiuolo L, Mortiboys H. Ursodeoxycholic Acid Improves Mitochondrial Function and Redistributes Drp1 in Fibroblasts from Patients with either Sporadic or Familial Alzheimer's Disease. J Mol Biol. 2018 Aug 29. pii: S0022-2836(18)30987-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2018.08.019
  2. Yealland G, Battaglia G, Bandmann O, Mortiboys H. Rescue of mitochondrial function in parkin-mutant fibroblasts using drug loaded PMPC-PDPA polymersomes and tubular polymersomes. Neurosci Lett. 2016 Jul 10;630:23-29. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2016.06.065.
  3. Mortiboys H, Furmston R, Bronstad G, Aasly J, Elliott C, Bandmann O. (2015) UDCA exerts beneficial effect on mitochondrial dysfunction in LRRK2G2019S carriers and in vivo. Neurology. 85(10):846-52.
  4. Mortiboys H, Aasly J, Bandmann O (2013) Ursocholanic acid rescues mitochondrial function in common forms of familial Parkinson’s disease. Brain, 136(Pt10): 3038-50.

Professional Activities

I am a member of the Parkinson’s UK grant review panel as well as the Patient Public Involvement Steering Group. I also sit on the Cure Parkinson’s Trust Review Panel. I am external examiner for MRes courses at University of Newcastle. I regularly review for several funding bodies including MRC, Parkinson’s UK, BBSRC, Motor Neuron Disease Association.


I was awarded my PhD from the International Max Planck PhD Program in Dresden Germany in 2006 with the grade summa cum laude; this project focused on the ‘Influence of mitochondrial energy metabolism on cellular function: implications for neurometabolic and neurodegenerative diseases.’ After which I worked in the Neurology department at the University Hospital Dresden as a research associate on an EU funded project investigating Co-enzyme Q deficiency in patient tissue.

I joined the Neuroscience department at the University of Sheffield in 2006 to set up mitochondrial investigations in models of Parkinson’s Disease working as a postdoctoral research associate with Prof. Oliver Bandmann.

I started my own lab when I became a Parkinson’s UK Senior Research Fellow in September 2013 based within the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN).

I am currently a Senior Lecturer in Translational Neuroscience.

Teaching Interests

I teach in the MSc courses in Translational Neuroscience, Clinical Neurology and Molecular Medicine focussing on protein assay work and basic cell biology assays, the pathogenetic mechanisms involved in Parkinson’s Disease and critical review of the literature teaching. I also teach on the undergraduate Biomedical Science course on the module the Biological Basis of Brain Disease. I enjoy training and supervising MSc and BMedSci students during their research projects.

Contact Details

Department of Neuroscience
Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience
University of Sheffield
Room B50
385a Glossop Road
S10 2HQ

T: +44 (0)114 2222259

Beverley Carter
T: +44 (0)114 2222295