Dr Zubair Ahmed

Zubair Ahmed

Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
Senior Lecturer in 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

Zubair Ahmed is a Senior Lecturer 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 developed 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, 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 the repair of peripheral nerves using artificial biological matrices. He then moved to the Institute of Neurology (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 the formation of cavities after spinal cord injury. In 2011 he was promoted to Lecturer and in 2013 to Senior Lecturer, where he continues to develop his programme of research. 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 - Co-programme Director
    • Module Coordinator for Introduction to Trauma Science
    • Module Coordinator for Dissertation Module
  • BMedSc
    • 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 for Year 3 projects
    • Personal Mentor
  • MBChB
    • 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 axon regeneration. 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.
  • Reviews Editor – Frontiers in Neuropharmacology


Recent publications


Ahmed, Z & Di Pietro, V 2021, 'Effects of Memantine in Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury: A Systematic Review', Traumas, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 1-14. https://doi.org/10.3390/traumas1010001

Apampa , A, Ali, A, Kadir, B & Ahmed, Z 2021, 'Safety and effectiveness of surgical fixation versus non‑surgical methods for the treatment of flail chest in adult populations: a systematic review and meta‑analysis', European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00068-021-01606-2

Thomas, CN, Courtie, E, Bernardo-Colón, A, Essex, G, Rex, TS, Ahmed, Z & Blanch, RJ 2020, 'Assessment of necroptosis in the retina in a repeated primary ocular blast injury mouse model', Experimental Eye Research, vol. 197, 108102. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exer.2020.108102

Hawkridge, K, Ahmed, I & Ahmed, Z 2020, 'Evidence for the use of spinal collars in stabilising spinal injuries in the pre‑hospital setting in trauma patients: a systematic review', European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00068-020-01576-x

Robinson, T, Eisenstein, N, Cox, S, Moakes, R, Thompson, AM, Ahmed, Z, Hughes, E, Hill, LJ, Stapley, S & Grover, L 2020, 'Local injection of a hexametaphosphate formulation reduces heterotopic ossification in vivo', Materials today. Bio, vol. 7, 100059. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mtbio.2020.100059

Ahmed, Z, Suggate, E, Logan, A & Berry, M 2020, 'Retinal Ganglion Cell Survival and Axon Regeneration after Optic Nerve Transection is Driven by Cellular Intravitreal Sciatic Nerve Grafts', Cells, vol. 9, no. 6, 1335. https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9061335

Mead, B, Chalming, X, Zack, D, Ahmed, Z & Tomarev, S 2020, 'TNFα-mediated priming of mesenchymal stem cells enhances their neuroprotective effect on retinal ganglion cells', Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (IOVS), vol. 61, no. 2, 6. https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.61.2.6

Kitchen, P, Salman, MM, Halsey, A, Clarke-Band, C, MacDonald, J, Ishida, H, Vogel, H, Almuitiri, S, Logan, A, Kreida, S, Al-Jubair, T, Missel, J, Gourdon, P, Tornroth-Horsefield, S, Conner, M, Ahmed, Z, Conner, A & Bill, RM 2020, 'Targeting aquaporin-4 subcellular localization to treat central nervous system edema', Cell, vol. 181, no. 4, pp. 784-799.e19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.03.037

Ahmed, Z 2020, 'The GSK3β pathway in optic nerve regeneration', Archives of Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 10-16. https://doi.org/10.46439/ophthalmology.2.009

Vigneswara, V & Ahmed, Z 2020, 'The Role of Caspase-2 in Regulating Cell Fate', Cells, vol. 9, no. 5, 1259. https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9051259

Mead, B, Cullather, E, Nakaya, N, Niu, Y, Kole, C, Ahmed, Z & Tomarev, S 2020, 'Viral delivery of multiple miRNAs promotes retinal ganglion cell survival and functional preservation after optic nerve crush injury', Experimental Eye Research, vol. 197, pp. 108071. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exer.2020.108071

Thompson, A, Berry, M, Logan, A & Ahmed, Z 2019, 'Activation of the BMP4/Smad1 Pathway Promotes Retinal Ganglion Cell Survival and Axon Regeneration', Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (IOVS), vol. 60, no. 5, pp. 1748-1759. https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.18-26449


Ahmed, Z, Fulton, D & Douglas, M 2020, 'Opicinumab: is it a potential treatment for multiple sclerosis?', Annals of Translational Medicine. https://doi.org/10.21037/atm.2020.03.131

Review article

Ahmed, Z & Thareja, A 2021, 'Penetration enhancers for topical drug delivery to the ocular posterior segment—a systematic review', Pharmaceutics, vol. 13, no. 2, 276. https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics13020276

Manukjan, N, Ahmed, Z, Fulton, D, Blankesteijn, WM & Foulquier, S 2020, 'A Systematic Review of WNT Signaling in Endothelial Cell Oligodendrocyte Interactions: Potential Relevance to Cerebral Small Vessel Disease', Cells, vol. 9, no. 6, 1545. https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9061545

View all publications in research portal