Sheffield Institute for
Translational Neuroscience

Dr Julie Simpson PhD

Senior Lecturer in Translational Neuropathology
University of Sheffield

Research Interests

My main research interests are identifying and understanding neuroinflammatory contributions to ageing and dementia, particularly age-associated white matter pathology. My research primarily focusses on the detailed immunohistological characterisation and gene expression profiling of specific cell populations in the ageing brain. Investigating glial activation and function is crucial to understanding the inflammatory response in the ageing brain and their association with white matter pathology.

Current Projects

Current projects

  1. Blood brain barrier dysfunction in the ageing brain
  2. Hypoxia-induced changes in glia and their role in the formation of age-associated white matter lesions
  3. Microglial-mediated mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases


Research Team

PhD students

  • Taghreed Almansouri. Supervisors: JE Simpson, F Van Eeden "Hypoxia-mediated changes in the microglial phenotype of age-associated white matter lesions and a zebrafish model"
  • Mara Floare.  Supervisors: JE Simpson, M Hadjivassilou  “TG6 autoimmunity and the development of neurological dysfunction in gluten sensitivity related disorders”
  • Monica Rebollar Gaugnelli. Supervisors: SB Wharton; S Francis; JE Simpson “The Effects of Systemic Atherosclerosis on the Brain Neurovascular Unit”
  • Bridget Ashford.  Supervisors: R Highley, JE Simpson “Microglial Pathology In Human Motor Neurone Disease”



Recent publications include:

  1. Waller R, Narramore R, SimpsonJE, HeathPR, Verma N, Tinsley M, Barnes J, Haris H,  Henderson FE, Matthews FE, Richardson C, Brayne C, Ince PG, Kalaria R,  Wharton SB (2021) Heterogeneity of Cellular Inflammatory Responses in Ageing White Matter and Relationship to Alzheimer’s and Small Vessel Disease Pathologies.  Brain Pathology 31(3):e12928
  2. Bury JJ, Chambers A, Heath PR, Ince PG, Shaw PJ, Matthews FE, Brayne C, Simpson JE, Wharton SB (2021) Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus-Associated Transcriptome Alterations in Cortical Neurones and Associated Neurovascular Unit Cells in the Ageing Brain.  Acta Neuropath Comm 9(1):5
  3. Fadul MM, Garwood CJ, Waller R, Garrett N, Heath PR, Matthews FE, Brayne C, Wharton SB, Simpson JE (2020) NDRG2 Expression Correlates with Neurofibrillary Tangles and Microglial Pathology in the Ageing Brain.  Int. J. Mol. Sci. 21(1). pii: E340.
  4. Waller R, Mandeya M, Viney E, Simpson JE, Wharton SB (2020) Histological characterization of interneurons in Alzheimer’s Disease reveals a loss of somatostatin interneurons in the temporal cortex.  Neuropathology 40(4):336-346
  5. Owasil R, O'Neill R, Keable A, Nimmo J, MacGregor Sharp M, Kelly L, Saito S, Simpson JE, Weller R, Smith C, Attems J, Wharton SB, Yuen B, Carare RO (2020)  The pattern of AQP4 expression in the ageing human brain and in
  6. cerebral amyloid angiopathy.  Int. J. Mol. Sci. 21(4). pii: E1225.
  7. Brezzo G, SimpsonJE, Ameen-Ali KE, Berwick J, Martin C  (2020)  Acute effects of systemic inflammation upon the neuro-glial-vascular unit and cerebrovascular function.  Brain, Behaviour & Immunity-Health 5:100074
  8. Chambers A, Bury JJ, Minett T, Richardson CD, Brayne C, Ince PG, Shaw PJ, Garwood CJ, Heath PR, Simpson JE, Matthews FE, Wharton SB (2020)  Advanced Glycation End Product Formation in Human Cerebral Cortex Increases with Alzheimer-type Neuropathologic Changes but is Not Independently Associated with Dementia in a Population-Derived Ageing Brain Cohort.  J Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology 79(9):950-958.
  9. Ashford BA, Boche D, Cooper-Knock J, Heath PR, Simpson JE, Highley JR (2020)  Microglia in Motor Neuron Disease.  NAN 47(2):179-197
  10. MacGregor Sharp M, Saito S, Keable A, Gatherer M, Aldea R, Agarwal N, Simpson JE, Wharton SB, Weller RO, Carare RO.  (2020)  Demonstrating a reduced capacity for removal of fluid from cerebral white matter and hypoxia in areas of White Matter Hyperintensity associated with age and dementia. Acta Neuropath Comm 8(1):131.
  11. Fadul MM, Heath PR, Cooper-Knock J, Kurtz J, Al-Azzawi H, Ali Z, Smith T, Matthews FE, Brayne C, Wharton SB, Simpson JE (2020) Transcriptomic analysis of age-associated periventricular lesions reveals dysregulation of the immune response.  Int J Mol Sci. 21(21):E7924.
  12. Allen S, Singh Seehra R, Hall BPC, Heath PR, Bates J, Garwood C, Matuszyk M, Wharton SB, Simpson JE  (2020) Transcriptomic analysis of human astrocytes in vitro reveals hypoxia-induced mitochondrial dysfunction, modulation of metabolism and dysregulation of the immune response.  Int J Mol Sci. 21(21):E8028.


Professional Activities

  • Alzheimer’s Research UK Yorkshire Network Co-ordinator
  • Peer review of submitted papers for journals including Acta Neuropathologica, Brain Behaviour & Immunity, Glia, Journal of Neuroimmunology, Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology, Neuroscience Letters, FASEB and PLOS One.
  • Peer review of grant applications for funding bodies including the Alzheimer's Society, MRC, BBSRC and NC3Rs.
  • Ethics reviewer for the School of Medicine

Membership of Associations and Societies

  • British Neuropathological Society
  • British Neuroscience Association
  • British Society for Research on Ageing
  • Pathological Society


I graduated from the University of Sheffield in 1995 with BSc (Hons) in Neuroscience, and was awarded a PhD in Neuroimmunology from Sheffield Hallam University in 1999. I joined the Department of Neuroscience at Sheffield University in 2002 and have been a member of the Neuropathology research group since 2004.  I was appointed Lecturer in Translational Neuropathology at SITraN in 2016 and Senior Lecturer in 2020.

Teaching Interests

I am involved in teaching on all MSc courses within the Department of Neuroscience.  I am Course Lead of the MSc Translational Neuropathology, a course which combines core teaching of the fundamental aspects of the major neuropathological diseases with significant emphasis on the development of practical laboratory skills, and Course Lead of the MSc Translational Neuroscience, a course which is focused on the molecular basis of neurodegeneration, and looks at how laboratory research relating to brain structure and function informs the development of new therapies for diseases of the nervous system.  

I was awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education from Sheffield Hallam University in 1999, became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2011, and a Senior Fellow of the HEA in 2019.

Contact Details

Department of Neuroscience
University of Sheffield
Room B27
385a Glossop Road
S10 2HQ

T: +44 (0)114 22 22242