Dr Daniel Blackburn


Neuroscience, School of Medicine and Population Health

Senior Lecturer

Honorary Consultant Neurologist

Dan Blackburn
Profile picture of Dan Blackburn
+44 114 215 9101

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Dr Daniel Blackburn
Neuroscience, School of Medicine and Population Health
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.I have been a senior lecturer since 2018. 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 (cognospeak.com) 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

PI: University of Sheffield, Participatory Research. Feb-July 2023. Co-evaluation of partnership working to develop AI dementia detection health technology. £14,030

PI:INIHR i4i grant. CognoSpeak: a Cognitive Health Assessment Tool (CcHAT). £1.47M. 36 months. Start date 01.02.2022

COEN6011: Investigating neuronal hyperactivity as a link between amyloid-β and tau spreading in Alzheimer’s disease (NeurActAmy) Submitted Dec 2022- Successful

KE Funding application, £22,904 of EPSRC funding awarded to support project: Establishing medical device regulatory appropriate software development at TUoS: Establish and trial an eQMS solution for CognoSpeak (CognoSpeak-eQMS)’. Dec 2022-June 2023.

Alzheimer Research UK Local Network grant, Investigating Barriers to Accessing Memory Pathways for people from South Asian background and exploring acceptability of CognoSpeak (automated cognitive assessment tool). Hina Khan, Dr Gregor Russell  and Iftikhar Khan (Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust) & Dr Daniel Blackburn £5000. March 2023- Feb 2024

NIHR HSDR:  Improving triadic decision making involving people with dementia. Led by Traci Walker (co-applicants Markus Reuber, Simon Bell, Alistair Wardrope). Start date 01.10.2022- 30.09.202. £525,092.89.

NIHR Three Schools: Dementia Research Programme. Improving the lives of people living with dementia and carers 2021-2024. Dementia Career Development Awards: Establishing a dementia related research career and writing a research funding proposal focused on developing a complex intervention to support the wellbeing of people with mild cognitive impairment, using a public health approach.  Start date 01.06.2022- 31.06.2023; £36,145

Equal, diverse and inclusive primary care research delivery (EDI-PCR delivery). Jon Dickson, Professor Liddy Goyder, Professor Adewale Adebajo MBE, Jodie Keyworth, Dr Dan Blackburn, Steve Knight, Professor Simon Heller, Dr Dipak Patel, Professor Chris Newman, Karen French, Ian Baxter. Start date March 2022- End date July 2022. £30K

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  the following students

1st Supervisor PhD

  1. Dr Ronan O’Malley is working on the digital doctor project to explore how linguistic analysis of semantic dysfunction can be combined with imaging and AD biomarkers to best manage MCI and predict conversion to AD.
  2. Dr Leslie Ing: Developing CognoMND and automated assessment of Cognition  based on language for people with MND (Y2). Co-supervisor Prof Chris McDermott and Prof Heidi Christensen
  3. Labhpreet Kaur investigating automated assessment of collateral history form acre-partners to aid detection and diagnosis of cognitive impairment (Y1) Co-supervisor Prof Heidi Christensen

2nd Supervisor PhD

  1. Sam Hollands “Early onset cognitive impairment detection from speech and language signals” 1st supervise Heidi Christensen Funding Computer Science Doctoral Training Centre
  2. Meg Thomas- Roe of dysfuencies in cognitive impairment. 1st Supervisor Traci Walker. Computer Science Doctoral Training Centre
  3. Jin Ni- Individualised Adaptive P300-based Brain-computer Interface for TreatincCognitive Impairment Symptoms after Stroke. 1st supervisor Mahnaz Arvanah
  4. Mian Kou is the student's name.: Multimodal Intelligent Neural Interfaces for Early Detection and Treatment of Post-stroke Dementia. 1st supervisor Mahnaz Arvanah. Funding DiMEM.

Academic Clinical Lecturers

  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 created using INPC
  2. Dr Richard Bevan Jones. -investigating FTD and cognitive and behavioural disturbance in atypical Parkinsons’s disease.

Clinical Fellow

Dr Hina Khan, Investigating feasibility of cognitive assessment using CognoSpeak in South Asian communities

Teaching interests

I helped set up the Clinical Neurology MSc course.  I was the course lead for 12 months and have led two modules . I provide lectures and supervise research projects and CNELM students.

I teach on Neurodegeneration to MSc, UG medical students and PG students

I am a faculty member of the Neurology Academy, (The Edge, Sheffield) which provides masterclass teaching on Dementia for clinicians

Professional activities and memberships
  • Chair of the Special Interest Group in Cognitive Disorders – Association of British Neurologists
  • ARUK Clinical Policy Advisory Panel member
  • I am co-lead for dementia, for the Yorkshire and Humber regional Clincial Research Network.
  • Member of the South Yorkshire Interest Group in Dementia
  • Member of UoS Senate Research and Innovation Committee 
  • I sit on the Dementia Translational Research Collaboration panel
  • I am the lead for long term neurological conditions for Devices for Dignity NIHR MTC.
  • Professor Robert Perneckzy, Psychaity, UoS
  • Professor Heidi Christensen-  Professor of Spoken Language Technology, Computer Science, UoS
  • Professor Markus Reuber- Neurology UoS
  • Professor Oliver Bandmann, Professor of Movement disorders, UoS
  • Dr Traci Walker- Lecturer Department of Human Communication Sciences, Uo
  • Professor Chris McDermott, Professor of Translational Neurology
  • Dr Mahnaz Arvaneh, Senior Lecturer, Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering
  • Dr Jon Dickson, Academic GP, UoS
  • Dr Sam Creaven, Academic GP, University of Bristol
  • Dr Ptolemaios Sarrigiannis, Consultant Neurophysiologist
  • Professor Ananlena Venneri- Neuropsychology & Imaging, Brunel University
  • Dr Matteo De Marco- Neuropsychology & Imaging, Brunel University
  • Professor Vanessa Raymond, University of Oxford
  • Professor Paresh Malhotra, Imperial College London