Center of Excellence for Aging & Brain Repair

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Alison Willing, PHD

Professor, Center Of Excellence For Aging & Brain Repair

Professor, College Of Medicine Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology

Professor, College Of Medicine Pathology & Cell Biology

Center Of Excellence For Aging & Brain Repair

Professor, Neurosurgery & Brain Repair, MCOM, University of South Florida

Contact Info 12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd
Tampa, FL 33612

Academic Email:

Academic Phone: (813) 974-7812

View My C.V.


  • PHD, Medical Physiology, University Of Calgary, 1993
  • MA, Psychology, University of Calgary, 1990
  • BA, Psychology, University of Calgary, 1988

Academic Philosophy

"The academic environment should be one that stimulates lifelong learning and creativity while also instilling a respect for diverse viewpoints. Whether in the laboratory or the classroom, I strive to lead by example and inspire others."

Interdisciplinary and Emerging Signature Programs

  • Neurodegenerative Disease
  • Neuroscience

Research Interests

  • My laboratory focuses on mechanisms underlying cell death and regeneration in stroke. In particular, I am interested in revealing the role of inflammation as a major contributing factor to stroke progression and an ideal target for interventions that produce neuroprotection and neurorestoration. I am also interested cell therapies as potential treatments for damaged brain.


  • AAAS (Fellow, 2012 - Present)
  • American Society for Neural Therapy & Repair (Councillor, 1997 - Present)
  • Cell Transplant Society 1997 - Present)
  • Society for Neuroscience 1994 - Present)
  • International Behavioral Neuroscience Society 1995 - 2005)

Recent Publications

  • Katnik, C.Garcia, A.Behensky, AA.Yasny, IE.Shuster, AM.Seredenin, SB.Petrov, AV.Seifu, S.McAleer, J.Willing, A.Cuevas, J. Treatment with afobazole at delayed time points following ischemic stroke improves long-term functional and histological outcomes. Neurobiology of disease. 62: 354-64, 2014.
  • Womble, TA.Green, S.Shahaduzzaman, M.Grieco, J.Sanberg, PR.Pennypacker, KR.Willing, AE. Monocytes are essential for the neuroprotective effect of human cord blood cells following middle cerebral artery occlusion in rat. Molecular and cellular neurosciences. , 2014.
  • Willing, AE.Garbuzova-Davis, SN.Zayko, O.Derasari, HM.Rawls, AE.James, CR.Mervis, RF.Sanberg, CD.Kuzmin-Nichols, N.Sanberg, PR. Repeated Administrations of Human Umbilical Cord Blood Cells Improve Disease Outcomes in a Mouse Model of Sanfilippo Syndrome Type III B. Cell transplantation. , 2013.
  • Shahaduzzaman, M.Golden, JE.Green, S.Gronda, AE.Adrien, E.Ahmed, A.Sanberg, PR.Bickford, PC.Gemma, C.Willing, AE. A single administration of human umbilical cord blood T cells produces long-lasting effects in the aging hippocampus. Age (Dordrecht, Netherlands). 35(6) : 2071-87, 2013.
  • Rodrigues, MC.Hernandez-Ontiveros, DG.Louis, MK.Willing, AE.Borlongan, CV.Sanberg, PR.Voltarelli, JC.Garbuzova-Davis, S. Neurovascular aspects of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. International review of neurobiology. 102: 91-106, 2012.
  • Seifert, HA.Hall, AA.Chapman, CB.Collier, LA.Willing, AE.Pennypacker, KR. A transient decrease in spleen size following stroke corresponds to splenocyte release into systemic circulation. Journal of neuroimmune pharmacology : the official journal of the Society on NeuroImmune Pharmacology. 7(4) : 1017-24, 2012.
  • Golden, JE.Shahaduzzaman, M.Wabnitz, A.Green, S.Womble, TA.Sanberg, PR.Pennypacker, KR.Willing, AE. Human umbilical cord blood cells alter blood and spleen cell populations after stroke. Translational stroke research. 3(4) : 491-9, 2012.
  • Seifert, HA.Leonardo, CC.Hall, AA.Rowe, DD.Collier, LA.Benkovic, SA.Willing, AE.Pennypacker, KR. The spleen contributes to stroke induced neurodegeneration through interferon gamma signaling. Metabolic brain disease. 27(2) : 131-41, 2012.
  • Rowe, DD.Leonardo, CC.Recio, JA.Collier, LA.Willing, AE.Pennypacker, KR. Human umbilical cord blood cells protect oligodendrocytes from brain ischemia through Akt signal transduction. The Journal of biological chemistry. 287(6) : 4177-87, 2012.
  • Garbuzova-Davis, S.Rodrigues, MC.Hernandez-Ontiveros, DG.Louis, MK.Willing, AE.Borlongan, CV.Sanberg, PR. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a neurovascular disease. Brain research. 1398: 113-25, 2011.
  • Sanberg, PR.Eve, DJ.Willing, AE.Garbuzova-Davis, S.Tan, J.Sanberg, CD.Allickson, JG.Cruz, LE.Borlongan, CV. The treatment of neurodegenerative disorders using umbilical cord blood and menstrual blood-derived stem cells. Cell transplantation. 20(1) : 85-94, 2011.
  • Leonardo, CC.Hall, AA.Collier, LA.Ajmo, CT.Willing, AE.Pennypacker, KR. Human umbilical cord blood cell therapy blocks the morphological change and recruitment of CD11b-expressing, isolectin-binding proinflammatory cells after middle cerebral artery occlusion. Journal of neuroscience research. 88(6) : 1213-22, 2010.
  • Leonardo, CC.Hall, AA.Collier, LA.Green, SM.Willing, AE.Pennypacker, KR. Administration of a Sigma Receptor Agonist Delays MCAO-Induced Neurodegeneration and White Matter Injury. Translational stroke research. 1(2) : 135-145, 2010.
  • Jiang, L.Saporta, S.Chen, N.Sanberg, CD.Sanberg, P.Willing, A. The effect of human umbilical cord blood cells on survival and cytokine production by post-ischemic astrocytes in vitro. Stem cell reviews. 6(4) : 523-31, 2010.
  • Chen, N.Newcomb, J.Garbuzova-Davis, S.Davis Sanberg, C.Sanberg, PR.Willing, AE. Human Umbilical Cord Blood Cells Have Trophic Effects on Young and Aging Hippocampal Neurons in Vitro. Aging and disease. 1(3) : 173-190, 2010.
  • Ajmo, CT.Collier, LA.Leonardo, CC.Hall, AA.Green, SM.Womble, TA.Cuevas, J.Willing, AE.Pennypacker, KR. Blockade of adrenoreceptors inhibits the splenic response to stroke. Experimental neurology. 218(1) : 47-55, 2009.
  • Ajmo, CT.Vernon, DO.Collier, L.Hall, AA.Garbuzova-Davis, S.Willing, A.Pennypacker, KR. The spleen contributes to stroke-induced neurodegeneration. Journal of neuroscience research. 86(10) : 2227-34, 2008.
  • Bachstetter, AD.Pabon, MM.Cole, MJ.Hudson, CE.Sanberg, PR.Willing, AE.Bickford, PC.Gemma, C. Peripheral injection of human umbilical cord blood stimulates neurogenesis in the aged rat brain. BMC neuroscience. 9: 22, 2008.
  • Willing, AE.Eve, DJ.Sanberg, PR. Umbilical cord blood transfusions for prevention of progressive brain injury and induction of neural recovery: an immunological perspective. Regenerative medicine. 2(4) : 457-64, 2007.
  • Walczak, P.Chen, N.Eve, D.Hudson, J.Zigova, T.Sanchez-Ramos, J.Sanberg, PR.Sanberg, CD.Willing, AE. Long-term cultured human umbilical cord neural-like cells transplanted into the striatum of NOD SCID mice. Brain research bulletin. 74(1-3) : 155-63, 2007.
  • Newcomb, JD.Janowski, M.Zigova, T.Saporta, S.McGrogan, MP.Sanberg, PR.Willing, AE. A comparison of dopaminergic cells from the human NTera2/D1 cell line transplanted into the hemiparkinsonian rat. Life Sciences. 81(6) : 441-448, 2007.
  • Chen, N.Kamath, S.Newcomb, J.Hudson, J.Garbuzova-Davis, S.Bickford, P.Davis-Sanberg, C.Sanberg, P.Zigova, T.Willing, A. Trophic factor induction of human umbilical cord blood cells in vitro and in vivo. Journal of neural engineering. 4(2) : 130-45, 2007.
  • Newcomb, JD.Sanberg, PR.Klasko, SK.Willing, AE. Umbilical cord blood research: current and future perspectives. Cell transplantation. 16(2) : 151-8, 2007.
  • Willing, AE.Pennypacker, KR. Alternate approach to understanding the molecular mechanisms of stroke-induced injury. Histology and histopathology. 22(6) : 697-701, 2007.
  • Garbuzova-Davis, S.Willing, AE.Saporta, S.Justen, EB.Misiuta, IE.Dellis, J.Sanberg, PR. Multiple transplants of hNT cells into the spinal cord of SOD1 mouse model of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis : official publication of the World Federation of Neurology Research Group on Motor Neuron Diseases. 7(4) : 221-6, 2006.
  • Shamekh, R.Cameron, DF.Willing, AE.Saporta, S. The role of connexins in the differentiation of NT2 cells in Sertoli-NT2 cell tissue constructs grown in the rotating wall bioreactor. Experimental brain research. Experimentelle Hirnforschung. Expérimentation cérébrale. 170(2) : 277-84, 2006.
  • Garbuzova-Davis, S.Willing, AE.Saporta, S.Bickford, PC.Gemma, C.Chen, N.Sanberg, CD.Klasko, SK.Borlongan, CV.Sanberg, PR. Novel cell therapy approaches for brain repair. Progress in brain research. 157: 207-22, 2006.