Professor Zubair Ahmed

Zubair Ahmed

Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
Professor of Neuroscience
Neuroscience and Ophthalmology Section Lead

Contact details

Neuroscience and Ophthalmology Group
Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT
Open Innovations Success Story

Zubair Ahmed is Professor of Neuroscience and Lead for the Neuroscience and Ophthalmology Section in the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing. His current focus for research is aligned with University identified priority areas of Immunology, Infection and Inflammation related to Trauma and in particular Neurotrauma. Some of his research projects are aimed at identifying the immune/inflammatory, metabolic and repair systems that determine the outcome of neurotrauma. He has an independent programme of research based on understanding the molecular mechanisms controlling repair and regeneration in the central nervous system.

He has received funding from the International Spinal Research Trust, the Wellcome Trust, MRC, NIHR, Fight for Sight and the EU.

Zubair is also a registered Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) ambassador through which he has visited Schools in the West Midlands to try and enthuse the next generation of research leaders and communicate the benefits of a career in Science.


  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), 2014
  • PGCert in Academic Practice, 2014
  • PhD in Plastic Surgery, 1999
  • BSc (Hons) Biochemistry, 1995


Zubair studied for a PhD in Plastic Surgery at University College London where he investigated a tissue engineering approach to repairing peripheral nerves using artificial biological matrices. He then moved to the Institute of Neurology in London to investigate the mechanisms of disease development in Multiple Sclerosis.

Zubair moved to the University of Birmingham in 2002 where he investigated the mechanisms behind why central nervous system axons fail to regenerate and developed strategies to combat these complications. He was awarded an RCUK Academic Fellowship in NeuroRegeneration in 2007 to develop his own independently funded research programmes on themes such as neuroprotection in the eye and neuro-restoration after spinal cord injury. In 2011 he was promoted to Lecturer, then to Senior Lecturer in 2013 and to Professor in Neuroscience in 2021. He continues to investigate the molecular mechanisms underpinning the failure of central nervous system neurons to regenerate after injury and disease. He currently leads the Neuroscience and Ophthalmology Section, a group of diverse clinicians and scientists interested in all aspects of trauma and disease affecting the eye, brain and spinal cord.

Zubair is a non-executive Board member and a co-founder of Neuregenix, a University of Birmingham-based spin-off company that seeks to exploit his work. He and his colleagues at Neuregenix have already demonstrated the preclinical efficacy of an anti-apoptotic gene-based medicine in protecting retinal neurons from injury-induced death. The target is now being assessed in Phase III clinical trials.


MSc Trauma Science - Programme Director

  • Deputy Module Coordinator for Introduction to Trauma Science
  • Module Coordinator for Dissertation Module
  • Personal Mentor


  • Deputy Module Coordinator for Neurotrauma: Degeneration and Regeneration (Year 3)
  • Lectures on the Biomaterials programme (Year 1)
  • Contributes to small group teaching in Biomedical Science
  • Supervisor to Year 3 projects
  • Personal Mentor


  • Deputy Module Coordinator for Introduction to Trauma Science
  • Module Coordinator for Dissertation Module
  • Personal Mentor

Postgraduate supervision

  • Supervisor for MSc/MRes projects
  • Currently supervises 10 PhD Students


Zubair's research focus is on understanding the fundamental biology of the failure of CNS neurons to regenerate their axons after injury and disease. Current projects in the lab include: strategies to promote axon regeneration and dissolution of the scar tissue after a chronic spinal cord injury; analysis of the angiogenic response after spinal cord injury; investigating the role of novel genes in CNS axon regeneration; the role of DNA damage after CNS injury; the role of epidermal growth factor receptor in CNS axon regeneration; neuroprotection in the eye and topical drug delivery agents to treat posterior eye disease.

Through these approaches, he and his colleagues have recently identified several molecules that are neuroprotective such as pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) and combinations of neurotrophic factors. He has also demonstrated that inhibition of caspase-2, once thought to be an initiator caspase, protects both retinal and spinal neurons from apoptosis.

Other activities

  • Regenerative and Reconstructive Medicine Theme Lead for the NIHR Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre
  • Registered Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Ambassador
  • Deputy Chair, Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Board (AWERB)
  • Co-Founder and non-executive Board Member for University of Birmingham spin-out company “Neuregenix Ltd”, a successful CRO.
  • Associate Editor – Frontiers in Neuropharmacology
  • Review Editor – Frontiers in Ophthalmic Drug Delivery
  • Editorial Board Member – Trauma Care (MDPI)
  • Editorial Board Member – Brain Sciences (MDPI)


Recent publications


Manukjan, N, Majcher, D, Leenders, P, Caiment, F, van Herwijnen, M, Smeets, HJ, Suidgeest, E, van der Weerd, L, Vanmierlo, T, Jansen, JFA, Backes, WH, van Oostenbrugge, RJ, Staals, J, Fulton, D, Ahmed, Z, Blankesteijn, WM & Foulquier, S 2023, 'Hypoxic oligodendrocyte precursor cell-derived VEGFA is associated with blood–brain barrier impairment', Acta Neuropathologica Communications, vol. 11, no. 1, 128.

Taylor, MJ, Thompson, AM, Alhajlah, S, Tuxworth, RI & Ahmed, Z 2022, 'Inhibition of Chk2 promotes neuroprotection, axon regeneration, and functional recovery after CNS injury', Science Advances, vol. 8, no. 37, eabq2611.

Stevens, A, Hadis, M, Milward, M, Ahmed, Z, Belli, T, Palin, W & Davies, D 2022, 'Photobiomodulation in acute traumatic brain injury: a systematic review and meta-analysis', Journal of Neurotrauma.


Ahmed, Z & Logan, A 2022, 'A humble neuroanatomist: Martin Berry, PhD (1936–2021)', European Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 56, no. 2, pp. 3783-3785.

Ahmed, Z & Tuxworth, R 2022, 'Inhibiting the DNA damage response pathway promotes functional recovery after spinal cord injury', Clinical and Translational Discovery, vol. 2, no. 3, e106.

Ahmed, Z 2022, 'MMP-9 and -12 inhibition in spinal cord injury restores function', Clinical and Translational Discovery, vol. 2, no. 2, e73.


Ahmed, Z, Alhajlah, S, Thompson, AM & Fairclough, RJ 2022, 'Clinic-ready inhibitor of MMP-9/-12 restores sensory and functional decline in rodent models of spinal cord injury', Clinical and Translational Medicine, vol. 12, no. 5, e884.

Review article

Borinuoluwa, R & Ahmed, Z 2023, 'Does blast mild traumatic brain injury have an impact on PTSD severity? A systematic review and meta-analysis', Trauma Care, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 9-21.

Bhuiyan, ZA, Adebayo, O & Ahmed, Z 2023, 'Localised insulin administration for wound healing in non‐diabetic adults: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomised controlled trials', Wound Repair and Regeneration.

Zaheer, SA & Ahmed, Z 2023, 'Neurodynamic Techniques in the Treatment of Mild-to-Moderate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis', Journal of Clinical Medicine, vol. 12, no. 15, 4888.

Ahmed, Z 2023, 'Reviving the use of inhibitors of matrix metalloproteases in spinal cord injury: a case for specificity', Neural Regeneration Research, vol. 18, no. 9, pp. 1925-1930.

Xia, Y, Khamis, M, Fernandez, FA, Heidari, H, Butt, H, Ahmed, Z, Wilkinson, T & Ghannam, R 2023, 'State-of-the-art in smart contact lenses for human-machine interaction', IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems, vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 187-200.

Ahmed, Z 2022, 'Current clinical trials in traumatic brain injury', Brain Sciences, vol. 12, no. 5, 527.

Wood, L & Ahmed, Z 2022, 'Does using 3D printed models for pre-operative planning improve surgical outcomes of foot and ankle fracture fixation? A systematic review and meta-analysis', European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery, vol. 2022.

Khan, FI & Ahmed, Z 2022, 'Experimental Treatments for Spinal Cord Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis', Cells, vol. 11, no. 21, 3409.

View all publications in research portal