Faculty of Medical Sciences

Staff Profile

Professor David Burn

Pro-Vice Chancellor (Medical Sciences)





Roles and Responsibilities

Honorary Consultant Neurologist, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Non-Executive Director,  Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Chair, Northern Health Science Alliance Board

Chair, NIHR Dementia Translational Research Collaboration


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 teaching 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, chairs the NIHR Translational Research Collaboration for Dementia and is Chair of the Northern Health Science Alliance Board.  He has been President of the Association of British Neurologists since May 2019.   



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.


1.     Co-applicant: Establishment of a Clinical Ageing Research Unit (CARU). Wellcome Trust: 2006 (£7.5 million) (G Ford, D Burn, JT O'Brien, R Taylor, IG McKeith, J Edwardson, T Kirkwood).

2.    Co-applicant: The role of mitochondrial DNA in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s Disease Society, UK: June 2007- May 2010 (£181207) (Chinnery PF, Burn DJ).

3.    Co-applicant: Does cueing improve gait in people with Parkinson’s disease with dementia? Parkinson’s Disease Society, UK: August 2007 - July 2008 (£8184) (Rochester L, Burn DJ, Nieuwboer A).

4.    Lead investigator: Visual symptoms in Parkinson’s disease and Parkinson’s disease dementia: Association with ocular and retinal pathology, visuo-perceptual deficits and impact on daily living and quality of life. Parkinson’s UK: November 2007-October 2010 (£206,446) (Archibald N, Mosimann UP, Clarke MP, Burn DJ).

5.    Co-applicant: The role of common DNA variants in Parkinson’s disease. Wellcome Trust: February 2008 – January 2009 (£53,885) (Wood NW, Barker RA, Burn DJ, Chinnery PF, Hardy J, Morris HR, Morrison K, Clarke CE, Williams N).

6.    Chief investigator: Predicting Dementia in Parkinson’s disease: A genotypic and phenotypic study (ICICLE-PD). Parkinson’s UK REF J0802, UK: October 2007 – September 2012 (£1,184,209) (Burn DJ, Barker RA, Brooks DJ, O’Brien JT, McKeith IG, Chinnery PF, Owen AM, Brayne CEG, Robbins T, Sawcer S, Coleman S).

7.    Co-applicant: Genome-wide association studies in Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s UK REF J-0804: January 2009 – December 2010 (£292,590) (Wood NW, Hardy J, Barker RA, Burn DJ, Chinnery PF, Morris HR, Morrison K, Williams NM).

8.    Chief investigator: Multicentre UK Study of the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor donepezil in early dementia associated with Parkinson's disease (MUSTARDD-PD). NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme Project REF: 08/14/13: 1st Sept 2010 – 31st Aug 2015 (£2,119,113) (Burn DJ, Barker RA, Braithwaite B, Burns A, Clarke CE, Hindle JV, Knapp M, Lees AJ, Leroi I, McColl E, McKeith IG, O’Brien JT, Steen IN, Wheatley K).

9.    Co-applicant: The Parkinson’s Repository of Biomarkers and Networked Datasets (PROBAND) programme: A UK national clinical consortium linking novel biomarker research to clinical expression, and progression rates, in Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s UK: 2011-2015 (£1,633,503) (Grosset D, Burn DJ, Barker RA, Ben-Shlomo Y, Bajaj N, Hardy J, Wood NW, Morris HR).

10. Principal applicant: Apomorphine: A modifier of amyloid deposition in Parkinson’s disease? Parkinson’s UK REF K-1101: October 2011 - April 2012 (£29,318) (Burn DJ, Revesz T, Lees AJ).

11. Principal applicant: Clinical trial to compare cognitive scales. Michael J Fox Foundation: 1st October 2011 - 30th September 2016 ($1,480,548) (Burn DJ, Weintraub D).

12. Principal applicant: A Biomedical Research Unit in Lewy Body Dementia. NIHR: 1st April 2012 - 31st March 2017 (£4.5M) (Burn DJ, McKeith IG, O’Brien JT, Kirkwood TBL, Chinnery PF, Ford GA).

13. Principal applicant: Predicting cognitive profiles in Parkinson’s disease: A multimodal approach. Michael J Fox Foundation: 1st November 2011 - 31st October 2013 ($153,342) (Burn DJ, Rochester L, O’Brien JT, Coleman SY, Baker MR).

14. Chief investigator: Predicting Dementia in Parkinson’s disease: A genotypic and phenotypic study (ICICLE-PD Project Extension). Parkinson’s UK REF G1301: 1st June 2014 – 31st December 2015 (£174,527) (Burn DJ, Barker RA, Rochester L).

15. Local principal applicant (National Lead: John Gallacher, Cardiff University): Integrating Dementias Research across the UK – the UK Dementia Platform.  MRC Clinical Research Capabilities & Technologies MR/M024806/1; Nov 2014 (total £40.7M; Newcastle component £2.77M).

16. Co-PI: Conservative iron chelation as a disease-modifying strategy in Parkinson’s disease: a multicentric, parallel-group, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial of deferiprone (FAIR-PARK-II). EU H2020 REF 633190, Application total 5,998,994 Euros (£209,952 to Newcastle University). Nov 2014 – Oct 2019.

17. Principal applicant: Structural retinal changes: a biomarker for dementia in Parkinson’s? Newcastle Healthcare Charity (the Trustees): 1st September 2015 – 31st August 2016 (£39661) (Burn DJ, Innes W, Yarnall AJ).

18. Principal applicant: Predicting Dementia in Parkinson’s disease: A genotypic and phenotypic study (ICICLE-PD Project Extension). Parkinson’s UK REF G1507: 1st Jan 2016 – 31st December 2017 (£203,771) (Burn DJ, Yarnall AJ, Rochester L, Barker RA, Williams-Gray CH).

19. Co-applicant: Tracking Parkinson’s: The long term development and analysis of the Parkinson’s repository of biomarkers and networked datasets. Parkinson’s UK; J-1101 extension: 2016-2018 (£1,517,866) (Grosset D, Bajaj N, Barker RA, Ben-Shlomo Y, Burn DJ, Foltynie T, Hardy J, Morris HR, Williams N, Wood NW).

20. Co-applicant (Dementia Theme Lead): NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre in Ageing and Long-Term Conditions: 1st April 2017 – 31st March 2022 (£16,208,633).

21. Principal applicant (Northern Health Science alliance): Delivering increased wealth and improving health; a unified place-based approach. Research England Development Fund on behalf of Northern Health Science Alliance & MedCity (£4.5M). 1st Sept 2019 – 31st Aug 2022 (Burn DJ, Howell S).

22. Principle investigator in Parkinson's disease drug studies, including trials of cholinesterase inhibitors (rivastigmine and donepezil), memantine, ACP-103 (pimavanserin; UK Chief Investigator), droxidopa, rasagiline (ADAGIO UK Chief Investigator), rotigotine, istradefylline, intranasal apomorphine, entacapone, preladenant (UK Chief Investigator) and putative neuroprotective agents.  Also UK Chief Investigator in NIH-funded tolerability of low dose lithium in PSP, davudenant as a neuroprotectant in PSP (Allon) studies.

Patents: none