Dr Alison Twelvetrees


Department of Neuroscience

Sir Henry Dale Fellow

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+44 114 215 9105

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Dr Alison Twelvetrees
Department of Neuroscience
Room B44
Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN)
385a Glossop Road
S10 2HQ

2021 – present, Sir Henry Dale Fellow, Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

2017 - 2020, Vice Chancellor’s Fellow, Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

2011 - 2017, Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania, Cancer Research UK London Research Institute & UCL Institute of Neurology

2010 - 2011, Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Dept of Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology, University College London

2005 - 2010, PhD in Molecular Neurobiology, Dept of Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology, University College London

2001 - 2005, MSci Hons (1st Class) in Biochemistry, Imperial College London

Research interests

My research is focused on understanding how the microtubule transport system contributes to neuronal health and disease. Neurons form complex extended cellular structures, which are essential for their function. This also presents a huge challenge that is unique to neurons; the need for a constant stream of organelles, proteins, RNA and signals, transported over very large distances, reaching the right destination at the right time.

All long distance transport events in the axon fall under the label of ‘axonal transport’. However, this label masks a complex set of co-dependent intracellular trafficking events of a huge array of cargos critical for neuronal health. Despite this complexity, all axonal transport events are carried out by the same set of machinery: microtubules and microtubule motor proteins (dynein and kinesins).

There is now a large body of evidence demonstrating deficits in axonal transport in multiple unrelated adult-onset neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, as well as motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs). In addition, deficits are frequently found as an early event in disease models.

The primary aim of our research is to understand the molecular mechanisms that govern a particular type of axonal transport termed slow axonal transport. I apply cutting edge cell biological, biochemical and biophysical approaches to visualize these processes in neurons over a broad range of spatial-temporal scales; from sub-second motility of single molecules to cellular behaviours over many hours. As all axonal transport is driven by dyneins, kinesins and microtubules, therapeutic strategies aimed at this transport system could have broad applicability to many diseases. By conducting our research within SITraN we aim to maximise the translation of our work for drug discovery.

Further details can be found on the lab website: twelvetreeslab.co.uk


Journal articles


  • Hackney DD & Twelvetrees AE (2020) The Kinesin-1 Family, The Kinesin Superfamily Handbook (pp. 15-32). CRC Press RIS download Bibtex download


Research group

Current research team

Evelyn Smith (PhD student)
Ashleigh Davey (PhD student)
Emma Turner (PhD student)


Twelvetrees Lab