Professor Heather Mortiboys


Neuroscience, School of Medicine and Population Health

Professor of Cellular Neuroscience and Metabolism

Heather Mortiboys
Profile picture of Heather Mortiboys
+44 114 222 2259
+44 114 222 2261 (Administrator: Rebecca Brown)

Full contact details

Professor Heather Mortiboys
Neuroscience, School of Medicine and Population Health
Room B50
Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN)
385a Glossop Road
S10 2HQ

I was awarded my PhD from the International Max Planck PhD Program in Dresden Germany in 2006 with the grade summa cum laude; this project focused on the ‘Influence of mitochondrial energy metabolism on cellular function: implications for neurometabolic and neurodegenerative diseases.’

After which I worked in the Neurology department at the University Hospital Dresden as a research associate on an EU funded project investigating Co-enzyme Q deficiency in patient tissue.

I joined the Neuroscience department at the University of Sheffield in 2006 to set up mitochondrial investigations in models of Parkinson’s Disease working as a postdoctoral research associate with Prof. Oliver Bandmann.

I started my own lab when I became a Parkinson’s UK Senior Research Fellow in September 2013 based within the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN).

Research interests

The main focus of my lab is mitochondria in neurodegenerative diseases, primarily focused on Parkinson’s Disease. This encompasses mitochondrial function, DNA, morphology and recycling as well as links with other cellular pathways.

My research focuses on both trying to further the understanding of the causes of mitochondrial problems in neurodegenerative conditions and in vitro drug screening for molecules which rescue mitochondrial function in patient tissue.

The lab has also recently become interested in investigating these mitochondrial abnormalities in Alzheimer’s Disease and Motor Neuron Disease patient derived cells. It is interesting to investigate the differing mitochondrial phenotypes between neurodegenerative diseases and the mechanisms by which they occur and potentially drive neuronal vulnerability.

Current projects

  • Targeting mitochondrial dysfunction with novel small molecules in Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Repurposing of compounds for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease
  • LRRK2 and mitochondria – what is the connection?
  • Differing types of mitophagy in neurons and astrocytes
  • Targeting mitophagy with small molecules in Parkinson’s Disease
  • Mitochondrial morphological abnormalities in patient derived models of Alzheimer’s Disease
  • What are the metabolic abnormalities in Motor Neuron Disease

Journal articles


Conference proceedings papers

  • Gonzalez-Robles C, Byrom D, Chapman R, Dexter D, Duty S, Ellis-Doyle R, Jabbari E, Mills G, Mortiboys H, Rudiger J , Sammler E et al (2022) Treatment Selection in Multi-Arm Multi-Stage Clinical Trials in Parkinson Disease: The Search for the Ideal Neuroprotective Drug. MOVEMENT DISORDERS, Vol. 37 (pp S329-S329) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Payne T, Burgess T, Sassani M, Roscoe S, Bradley S, Anton A, Reed E, Wilkinson I, Mortiboys H, Jenkins T & Bandmann O (2022) Multimodal mechanistic disease stratification in sporadic Parkinson's disease. MOVEMENT DISORDERS, Vol. 37 (pp S113-S113) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Payne T, Sassani M, Roscoe S, Bradley S, Anton A, Reed E, Wilkinson I, Mortiboys H, Jenkins T & Bandmann O (2021) Developing 31-phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy (31P-MRS) as an imaging biomarker to identify mitochondrial dysfunction in Parkinson's disease. MOVEMENT DISORDERS, Vol. 36 (pp S370-S371) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Payne T, Sassani M, Roscoe S, Bradley S, Anton A, Reed E, Wilkinson ID, Mortiboys H, Jenkins TM & Bandmann O (2021) (31)Phosphorus Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy as a Tool to Identify Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Parkinson's Disease In-Vivo. ANNALS OF NEUROLOGY, Vol. 90 (pp S152-S153) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Bell S, De Marco M, Barnes K, Shaw P, Ferraiuolo L, Blackburn D, Mortiboys H & Venneri A (2020) Do deficits in Mitochondrial Spare Respiratory Capacity contribute to Neuropsychological changes seen in Alzheimer's disease?. NEUROLOGY, Vol. 94(15) View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Keatinge M, Trollope L, Mortiboys H & Bandmann O (2018) Acid sphingomyelinase deficiency rescues mitochondrial dysfunction in gba-/- zebrafish (Danio rerio). MOVEMENT DISORDERS, Vol. 33 (pp S615-S615) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Oliver B, Solman S, Keatinge M, DaCosta M, Mortiboys H, Sugunan S & Kuznicki J (2016) Inhibition of the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU) rescues dopaminergic neurons in pink1-/- zebrafish. MOVEMENT DISORDERS, Vol. 31 (pp S209-S209) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dombi E, Diot A, Hinks-Roberts A, Lodge T, Liao C, Morten K, Brady S, Fratter C, Carver J, Green CJ , Churchill G et al (2016) Identifying novel pharmacological drugs to eliminate pathogenic heteroplasmic mtDNA by using a novel quantitative assay of mitophagy. NEUROMUSCULAR DISORDERS, Vol. 26 (pp S21-S21) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Liao C, Diot A, Ashley N, Morten K, Fratter C, Moroni I, Bianchi S, Lamperti C, Dombi E, Downes S , Sitarz K et al (2015) Dysregulated mitophagy and mitochondrial transport in sensori-motor neuropathy due to “Dominant Optic Atrophy” plus with OPA1 (Optic Atrophy 1) mutations. Neuromuscular Disorders, Vol. 25 (pp S185-S186) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Bandmann O, Johansen KK, Aasly JO & Mortiboys H (2010) Mitochondrial Impairment in Manifesting LRRK2-G2019S Carriers. NEUROLOGY, Vol. 74(9) (pp A255-A255) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Flinn L, Mortiboys H, Volkmann K, Koester RW, Ingham PW & Bandmann O (2009) Complex I deficiency and dopaminergic neuronal cell loss in parkin-deficient zebrafish (Danio rerio). MOVEMENT DISORDERS, Vol. 24 (pp S135-S135) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Bandmann O, Klaffke S, Sleiman P, Wood NW & Mortiboys HJ (2008) Abnormal mitochondrial function and morphology in fibroblasts of patients with early onset Parkinson's disease and two parkin mutations. NEUROLOGY, Vol. 70(11) (pp A485-A485) RIS download Bibtex download
  • Mortiboys H, Thomas K, Klaffke S, Koopman W, Cookson M & Bandmann O (2008) Mitochondrial function and morphology in parkin mutant fibroblasts. MOVEMENT DISORDERS, Vol. 23(1) (pp S49-S49) RIS download Bibtex download



Research group

Postdoctoral Research Associates

  • Dr Francesco Capriglia
  • Dr Naomi Hartopp
  • Dr Alex Bury
  • Dr Rachel Hughes
  • Dr Katy Barnes
  • Dr Orlaith O'Shaughnessy
  • Dr Elezebeth Stephen

Research Assistants

  • Nikolaos Stefanadis
  • Ella Simmonite

PhD students

  • James Lee
  • Toby Burgess
  • Louise Heywood
  • Alicja Olejnik
  • Rhiannon Brown

My research is currently funded by Parkinson’s UK Virtual Biotech, Cue Parkinson's, several industrial partners including Verge Genomics, NZP UK Ltd and Spark Therapeutics, and the Michael J Fox Foundation.

Teaching activities

I teach on the MSc courses in Translational Neuroscience, Translational Neuropathology, Clinical Neurology and Molecular Medicine focussing on protein assay work and basic cell biology assays, the pathogenetic mechanisms involved in Parkinson’s Disease and critical review of the literature teaching.

I also teach on the undergraduate Biomedical Science course on the module the Biological Basis of Brain Disease.

I enjoy training and supervising MSc and BMedSci students during their research projectsand usually host 2-3 students per year. In addition we host multiple medical students from the MBChB course for short projects per year.

Professional activities and memberships

I am a member of the Parkinson’s UK college of experts as well as the Patient Public Involvement Steering Group. I also sit on the Cure Parkinson’s Trust Review Panel.

I am lead external examiner for MRes courses at University of Newcastle. I regularly review for several funding bodies including MRC, Parkinson’s UK, BBSRC, Motor Neuron Disease Association, EU, ARUK and many others.


Within Sheffield: Dr Laura Ferraiuolo, Prof Oliver Bandmann, Prof Kurt De Vos, Dr Suman De and Prof Val Gillet

Outside of Sheffield: Prof Sylvie Urbe (University of Liverpool), Prof Mike Clague (University of Liverpool), Dr Liz New (University of Sydney), Prof Joanna Poulton (University of Oxford), Dr Alex Whitworth (University of Cambridge)