Institute of Neuroscience

Staff Profile

Dr Brendan Payne

Clinical Postdoctoral Fellow


I am a Clinical Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Infectious Diseases and Virology. I am currently funded by a Wellcome Trust personal fellowship. My research is based within the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research, the Institute of Genetic Medicine, and the Newcastle University Institute for Ageing. Clinically I have commitments to the Infection and Tropical Medicine service and the Clinical Virology service at Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

I undertook my undergraduate medical training at Nottingham University, and my postgraduate training in General Internal Medicine and then Infectious Diseases and Virology in the Northern region.

I am interested, both clinically and academically, in the long-term health of HIV-infected patients, who are now expected to survive for many decades, thanks to modern anti-retroviral therapy.


BMedSci (University of Nottingham 2000)
BMBS (University of Nottingham 2002)
MRCP (Infectious Diseases)
PhD (Newcastle University 2014).

Areas of expertise

Mitochondrial dysfunction in ageing and chronic disease

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My primary research interest revolves around the interaction of chronic infection and its treatment and the human ageing process. The accumulation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations is a key feature of normal human ageing at the cellular level. 

I have previously demonstrated that some long-term treated HIV-infected patients show an accelerated accumulation of such mutations in association with prior exposure to certain anti-retroviral drugs, known to disrupt the replication of mtDNA. This observation may plausibly explain the excess of common diseases of older age, and the increased frailty, seen in HIV-infected persons despite suppressive anti-retroviral therapy.

More recently we have explored the pathophysiological basis of these observations, in particular the relative importance of increased mutagenesis of mtDNA vs. accelerated clonal expansion of pre-existing mutations. These studies have wider reaching implications for normal ageing and degenerative disease. Through these studies we have generated novel deep resequencing assays based on massively parallel sequencing technology which have proved useful in interrogating mtDNA mutations in a variety of settings.

In this manner, we have also shown that many ostensibly somatic (acquired) mtDNA mutations are probably actually maternally transmitted at low levels. These further observation have fundamental implications for our understanding of the biology of mtDNA.

In addition I am involved in a number of clinically-oriented research projects in the HIV field, including studies using advanced imaging techniques.


I am involved in medical undergraduate teaching, and postgraduate research supervision.

I welcome enquires from prospective MRes and PhD students.