Professor Hugh Willison

  • Professor of Neurology (Immunology)
  • Professor of Neurology (School of Medicine)

telephone: 01413308384

Research interests

Professor Hugh Willison leads the Neuroimmunology Research Group within the Glasgow Biomedical Research Centre. The Neuroimmunology Group is concerned with dissecting out the pathogenesis of autoimmune neuropathies, using a wide variety of approaches, techniques and collaborations. Work in the lab in principally funded by The Wellcome Trust. 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). GBS has an incidence of 1-2:100,000 (500-1000 UK cases per year), very high health care costs, substantial morbidity, and a mortality of 5-10%. The overall aim of the Neuroimmunology Group is to solve the pathogenic cycle from origin to effects of anti-ganglioside antibodies and then design novel therapies and biomarkers. The projects running in the lab at present are as follows:

    • Identifying and characterising carbohydrate autoantigens using combinatorial glycoarrays
    • Understanding Campylobacter jejuni LPS structure and immunogenicity
    • Cloning & characterising anti-ganglioside autoantibodies
    • Modelling disease in a wide range of genetically modified mice
    • Developing therapeutic strategies from animal models
    • Clinical research on serotype/phenotype associations
    • Participation in clinical trials of neuropathy patients
    • Coordinating the UK arm of IGOS: International GBS Outcome Study, that aims to recruit and phenotype 1000 GBS cases worldwide over the next 3 years


Grants and Awards listed are those received whilst working with the University of Glasgow.

  • Clinical and biological determinants of disease course in Guillain-Barre syndrome: a prospective UK-wide clinical initiative.
    Guillain-Barre Support Group of the United Kingdom
    2013 - 2014
  • Defining the clinical relevance of demyelinating and axopathic autoantibodies in multiple sclerosis.
    Action Medical Research
    2013 - 2014
  • Development of a high throughput combinatorial microarray platform for identifying novel glycolipid targets in inflammatory neuropahties
    The Peripheral Nerve Society
    2013 - 2014
  • Monitoring distal nerve degeneration and regeneration in an active immunization mouse model of Guillain-Barre syndrome
    The Peripheral Nerve Society
    2011 - 2012
  • The structural and functional diversity of anti-glycolipid antibody repertoires and their nerve binding domains in human autoimmune neuropathy
    Wellcome Trust
    2011 - 2016
  • Neurofascin specific autoantibodies and the pathogenesis of MS
    Multiple Sclerosis Society
    2010 - 2013
  • Glycan Complexes as Novel Antigenic Targets in the Nervous System
    Wellcome Trust
    2008 - 2010
  • Glycosphingolipid antigen depletion as a novel strategy for treating autoimmune peripheral nerve diseases
    2008 - 2011
  • Imaging brain metabolism in acute stroke patients
    Patrick Berthould Charitable Trust
    2007 - 2010
  • Capacity Building Award in Integrative Mammalian Biology
    2007 - 2012
  • An analysis of gangliocide specific B cells in autoimmune disease
    Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland
    2007 - 2010
  • Anti-Sulphatide Antibodies in Multiple Sclerosis
    NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
    2006 - 2011
  • An integrated approach to novel mechanisms and therapeutic strategies in murine models of human autoimmune neuropathy
    Wellcome Trust
    2006 - 2011
  • Phenotypic analysis and therapeutic modulation of murine autoimmune neuropathy
    Patrick Berthould Charitable Trust
    2004 - 2007
  • Synthetic disialygalactose immunoadsorbents deplete anti-GQlb antibodies from autoimmune neuropathy sera
    The Guillain-Barre Syndrome Foundation International
    2004 - 2006
  • Glasgow Biomedical Research Centre
    Wellcome Trust
    2003 - 2006
  • The Pathogenesis of Autoimmune Neuropathy Associated with Anti-ganglioside Antibodies
    Wellcome Trust
    2000 - 2006