Professor of Neurology, University of Glasgow
Honorary Consultant Neurologist, South Glasgow Hospitals University
NHS Trust Director, NHS Diagnostic Neuroimmunology Laboratory, Southern General Hospital
Professor Hugh Willison is a tenured staff member at the University of Glasgow College of Medicine, Veterinary and Life Science in the Institute of infection Immunity and Inflammation, and also holds an Honorary Clinical Consultant Neurologist contract with the South Glasgow University Hospitals NHS Trust.
He has a specialist interest in peripheral nerve disorders and researches this area at the clinical and laboratory level. In particular, he combines his clinical and research activity on autoimmune diseases including Guillain Barre syndrome and chronic inflammatory neuropathies. He also directs a clinical diagnostic laboratory that conducts immunological tests of relevance to peripheral nerve disorders, including anti-glycolipid, anti-MAG and anti-neuronal antibodies. He received his undergraduate training at the Middlesex Hospital and clinical training in Neurology at the Royal Free Hospital and National Hospital, London.
He received his PhD training in the Myelin and Brain Development Section of NINCDS at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda in the mid 1980’s. He took up posts at Glasgow University and associated hospitals from 1990, including 6 years as a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Fellow and now receives long term funding from The Wellcome Trust. He is the author of a wide range of articles on clinical and experimental aspects of peripheral nerve disease.
CURRENT RESEARCH ACTIVITY
Professor Willison currently directs the Neuroimmunology Research Group. The Group is principally concerned with dissecting out the pathogenesis of autoimmune neuropathies, using a wide variety of approaches, techniques and collaborations. The particular emphasis is on the role of anti-ganglioside antibodies in the post-infectious paralytic neuropathy termed Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS) and the GBS variant termed Miller Fisher syndrome (MFS). The overall aim of the group is to solve the pathogenic cycle from origin to effects of anti-ganglioside antibodies and then design novel therapies.
The projects running in the lab at present are as follows:
- Identifying and characterising carbohydrate autoantigens
- Understanding microbial glycan structures and immunogenicity
- Cloning & characterising anti-ganglioside autoantibodies
- Glycoarray analysis of antibody-carbohydrate interactions
- Modelling disease in genetically modified mice with particular emphasis
on the pathophysiological events at the motor nerve terminal and node of Ranvier
- Developing therapeutic strategies in animal models
- Clinical research on serotype/phenotype associations
- Participation in clinical trials of neuropathy patients