Dr Daniel Blackburn


Department of Neuroscience

Senior Lecturer

Honorary Consultant Neurologist

+44 114 215 9101
+44 114 222 2262 (Administrator: Bethany Walker)

Full contact details

Dr Daniel Blackburn
Department of Neuroscience
Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN)
385a Glossop Road
S10 2HQ

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 have recently taken up a consultant neurology post. My main subspecialty interest is in dementia.

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 (https://cognospeak.github.io/website/) with Heidi Christensen from UoS Department of Computer Science (https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/dcs). 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

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).


Journal articles

Conference proceedings papers


Research group

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.

Teaching interests

I am co- module leader on two parts of the MSc in Clinical Neurology (Neurodegeneration and applied neuro-anatomy) and lead the research projects module. I helped set up this MSc and develop the curriculum and teaching components.

I teach undergraduate medical students and on the Foundations in Relationship-centred dementia care.

Professional activities and memberships
  • 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 on two parts of the MSc in Clinical Neurology Neurodegeneration and applied neuro-anatomy.
  • I teach on the Foundations in Relationship-centred dementia care University of Sheffield.
Key collaborations
  • Dr Heidi Christensen- Senior Lecturer Computer Science
  • Dr Ptolemaios Sarrigiannis, Consultant Neurophysiologist
  • Professor Ananlena Venneri- Neuropsychology & Imaging
  • Dr Matteo De Marco- Neuropsychology & Imaging
  • Professor Markus Reuber- Neurology
  • Dr Traci Walker- Lecturer Department of Human Communication Sciences