Centre for In Vivo Imaging

Staff Profiles

Professor David Burn

Pro-Vice Chancellor (Medical Sciences)








Roles and Responsibilities

Honorary Consultant Neurologist, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Chair, Northern Health Science Alliance Board

Trustee, Daft as a Brush Cancer Charity

Council member and Trustee, Academy of Medical Sciences


Professor David Burn took up the position of Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Medical Sciences on the 1st February 2017. The Faculty delivers impact through excellence in and close integration of research, teaching and engagement across three research institutes and five schools. 

Professor Burn is also Professor of Movement Disorders Neurology and Honorary Consultant Neurologist for Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. His first degree was at Oxford (Physiological Sciences), returning to his native North East for clinical training and early medical jobs, including neurology. After further neurology training and undertaking research in London (National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square and Hammersmith Hospital) he was appointed as a Consultant Neurologist and Senior Lecturer in Newcastle in 1994.   

Professor Burn has an international reputation for research in dementia associated with Parkinson’s. He is an Emeritus NIHR Senior Investigator and chaired the NIHR Translational Research Collaboration for Dementia (2017-2023) and is Chair of the Northern Health Science Alliance Board.  He was President of the Association of British Neurologists between 2019-2021.   

He is President Elect of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (2023-25) and was elected to Council of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2023 .



Research Interests

My research aims to improve the diagnosis and management of Parkinson’s disease, the Lewy body dementias and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP).  I played a key role in an International Task Force to develop the first set of Diagnostic Criteria for Dementia associated with Parkinson's disease and the International Consortium to define new diagnostic criteria for Dementia with Lewy Bodies.  My group is identifying predictors of dementia in Parkinson's disease, supported by a programme grant from Parkinson's UK to identify people with Parkinson's disease at high risk of incident dementia (ICICLE-PD). Recent outputs from this work have highlighted the high burden of non-motor symptoms, and a putative cholinergic basis underpinning impaired gait speed and attention, in early Parkinson’s.  More recently, my work has involved the study of apomorphine as a putative anti-amyloid agent (using clinicopathological methods) and ghrelin as a biomarker for cognitive impairment in Parkinson's.

I have contributed towards the development of new treatments for patients with movement disorders including a multi-centre randomised controlled trial of rivastigmine in the treatment of dementia in Parkinson's.  The results from this trial were incorporated into 2006 NICE-PD guidelines. I lead a multicentre NIHR HTA-funded study to establish the clinical and cost effectiveness of donepezil in early dementia associated with Parkinson's disease (MUSTARDD-PD).  My work in dementia with Lewy bodies has shown that physicians may prescribe levodopa safely to people with this disorder, although motor response may be sub-optimal.

I have made a significant impact in our understanding of the neurodegenerative disease PSP (average life-span 6-7 years). My work has highlighted the prevalence of PSP in the UK, its protean clinical features at presentation and the natural history.  The PSP (Europe) Association used outcomes from this work to raise public and professional awareness of the disorder, to lobby parliament, and establish a UK-wide “best clinical care” model for people.