The Sheffield Neurovascular Lab

We are a multidisciplinary research group comprising of neuroscientists across the Faculties of Science and Medicine at the University of Sheffield. We are also a member of both the Neuroscience Institute and Healthy Lifespan Institute.


We investigate neurovascular coupling (the relationship between neural activity and subsequent brain blood flow changes) in preclinical models of health, disease and ageing by using a wide array of imaging and laboratory techniques from cellular & molecular biology through to whole brain neuroimaging. Using human imaging datasets, available through our collaborators, we are able to link our preclinical findings to human disease. 

The overall aim of the research group is to understand the mechanisms of neurovascular coupling in health, how it is perturbed in diseases such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and atherosclerosis (heart disease; vascular dementia), and the possible identification of early biomarkers or potential therapeutic targets and treatment strategies for human patients. Key themes investigated include neurophysiology, neuropathology and neuroinflammation.

Our neuroimaging capabilities include 2D-optical imaging spectroscopy (which uses light to measure blood volume changes and oxygenation), 2-photon microscopy (allowing high-resolution imaging of cellular calcium activity and brain blood flow) & MRI (which allows whole brain-level imaging of brain structure and function).  These imaging methods are routinely combined with electrophysiology, optogenetics and oxygen measurements.

Current lab members

  • Dr Jason Berwick – Reader in Neurophysiology
  • Dr Clare Howarth – Sir Henry Dale Fellow
  • Dr Chris Martin – Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience
  • Dr Osman Shabir – Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Llywelyn Lee – PhD Student/Research Associate
  • Beth Eyre – PhD Student
  • Yasmin Hussein – Technician
  • David Drew – Research Technician

In collaboration with:

  • Professor Sheila Francis – University of Sheffield
  • Professor Steve Wharton – University of Sheffield
  • Dr Julie Simpson – University of Sheffield
  • Professor Tim Chico – University of Sheffield
  • Professor Stuart Allan – University of Manchester
  • Dr Emmanuel Pinteaux – University of Manchester
  • Dr Alberto Vazquez – University of Pittsburgh, USA
  • Professor Tim David – University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Current projects

  • Atherosclerosis, the brain and vascular dementia – the role of inflammation in neurovascular function
  • Cellular regulation of neurovascular coupling in health and aging (with particular focus on interneurons and astrocytes).
  • Investigating cognitive and neurovascular function in the APP/PS1 double transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.


Journal articles


Group alumni

  • Dr Sam Harris
  • Dr Luke Boorman
  • Dr Paul Sharp
  • Dr Kira Shaw
  • Dr Rebecca Slack
  • Dr Priya Patel
  • Dr Gaia Brezzo
  • Dr Karishma Chhabria
  • Ms Emily Glendenning
  • Ms Claire Christmas
  • Dr Aisling Spain

A global reputation

Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.