Dr Daniel Blackburn


Department of Neuroscience

Consultant Neurologist

Honorary Senior Lecturer

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

Full contact details

Dr Daniel Blackburn
Department of Neuroscience
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 Post-Stroke Dementia and diagnostic tests for early dementia or cognitive impairment. I am investigating novel mechanisms of diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias using electroencephalography (EEG) and conversation analysis.

I am a co-applicant on a NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme: PB-PG-0211-24079 – Using Conversation Analysis in the Differential Diagnosis of Memory Problems: a pilot study is using the technique of conversational analysis to explore how people with and without an organic memory disorder describe their subjective memory complaint.

This work is being led by Professor Markus Reuber, who has used this technique in the field of epilepsy and non-epileptic attacks.

I am PI for an Alzheimer’s Research United Kingdom (ARUK-PPG20114B-25) 2014-2016 (£29,805) to ‘Developing a new biomarker for the early diagnosis of dementia; a novel non-linear signal processing approach using resting state EEG’.

This is in collaboration with Dr Ptolemy Sarrigianis in the department of Neurophysiology.

Current projects

  • Quantitative EEG (using Error Reduction Ratio causality test) can record differences in bi-parietal synchronisation between people with Alzheimer’s disease compared to healthy controls.  Funded by Alzheimer’s Research United Kingdom (ARUK-PPG20114B-25) 2014-2016 (£29,805) & 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.
  • Automated Conversation Analysis to stratify and monitor patients with Cognitive Impairment.
  • Funding Medical Research Council Confidence in Concept. COCOA (COmputerised Cognitive Assessment) – proof-of-concept. 2018-19. £49,513 & 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
  • Astrocytes play a crucial role in the progression of Motor Neuron Disease. The use of laser capture microdissected astrocytes at different time points from the murine model have shown defects in the normal supportive role- providing cholesterol to neurones as well as an increased immune response. I have now progressed this and with collaborators in SITRAN have produced i-Astrocytes from skin samples of my patients with sporadic AD. 
  • Funding: Azheimer research UK Preparatory Clinical Research Fellowship (ARUK-PCRF2016A-1: £69998). Jan 2016 & 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.
    PI is Simon Bell who is my academic clinical fellow I am supervising. Collaboration with Professor Stephen Wharton, Drs Laura Ferraiuolo and Heather Mortiboys.
  • Investigating role Neutrophil derived microvesicles: linking systemic inflammation and dementia ARUK: ARUK-PPG2018A-009: PI Julie Simpson. 2018-19.
  • NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme. 14/140/80 Journeying through dementia; randomised controlled trial of clinical and cost effectiveness. 2015-2019. (£2,017,925). This is a collaboration with ScHARR and Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust

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
  • 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