Alison Willing I-4946-2012

Alison Willing, PhD

Professor, Neurosurgery & Brain Repair, MCOM

Professor, College of Medicine Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology

Professor, Center of Excellence for Aging & Brain Repair

Professor, Cop Dean's Office

Professor, College of Medicine Pathology & Cell Biology

Professor, Center of Excellence for Aging & Brain Repair

Professor, Graduate Programs, Pharmacy

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

  • Allergy, Immunology & Infectious Disease
  • Biomedical Engineering & Nanomedicine
  • 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.
  • In addition, I have small ongoing studies examining the effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as a complementary medicine treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.


  • 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

  • Shahaduzzaman, M. ; Mehta, V.; Golden, J.E.; Rowe, D.D.; Green, S.; Tadinada, R.; Foran, E. A.; Sanberg, P.R.; Pennypacker, K.R.; Willing, A.E. Human Umbilical Cord Blood Cells Induce Neuroprotective Change in Gene Expression Profile in Neurons After Ischemia Through Activation of Akt Pathway Cell Transplantation. 24(4) : 721-735, 2015.
  • 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. 59: 76-84, 2014.
  • Seifert HA, Collier LA, Chapman CB, Benkovic SA, Willing AE, Pennypacker KR. Pro-inflammatory interferon gamma signaling is directly associated with stroke induced neurodegeneration. Journal of neuroimmune pharmacology : the official journal of the Society on NeuroImmune Pharmacology. 9(5) : 679-89, 2014.
  • Rowe, D.D.; Collier, L. A.; Seifert, H.A.; Chapman, C.B.; Leonardo, C.C.; Willing, A.E.; Pennypacker, K. R. Leukemia inhibitor factor promotes functional recovery and oligodendrocyte survival in rat models of focal ischemia EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE. 40(7) : 3111-3119, 2014.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rowe DD, Leonardo CC, Hall AA, Shahaduzzaman MD, Collier LA, Willing AE, Pennypacker KR. Cord blood administration induces oligodendrocyte survival through alterations in gene expression. Brain Research. 1366: 172-88, 2010.
  • 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.

Positions Held

  • Associate Professor (Neurosurgery & Brain Repair, University of South Florida 2004 - 2008)
  • Assistant Professor (Surgery, COM, University of South Florida 1996 - 2004)


  • Charter Member (National Academy of Inventors - 2010)
  • Bernard Sanberg Memorial Award for Brain Repair (American Society for Neural Therapy and Repair - 2006)
  • Million Dollar Club (University of South Florida - 2006)
  • Presidential Young Faculty Award (University of South Florida - 2000)