Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research


Scanning electron micrograph of the dendrites of a cerebellar Purkinje cell - Hausser Lab


Professor William D. Richardson

FMedSci  FRS
Central nervous system glia


Tel: 020 7679 6729
Email: w.richardson@ucl.ac.uk
IRIS Profile: https://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/browse/profile?upi=WDRIC46
Website: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucbzwdr/Richardson.htm

We are investigating the diversity and functions of glial cells in the central nervous system (CNS).

Glial cells (astrocytes and oligodendrocytes) outnumber neurons in the CNS, yet there remain major questions regarding their developmental origins, functional roles and even how many different subtypes of glia there are. This fundamental information is needed if we are to stand a chance of understanding the workings of the brain and spinal cord.

Over the past several years we have invested heavily in mouse transgenesis, to generate transgenic lines that will be useful for studies of CNS glial cells in vivo. For example, we now have a battery of mouse lines in which different subtypes of glia express fluorescent marker proteins (e.g. GFP or tdTomato) and/or Cre recombinase. We are using these to map the origins of glial cells in the embryonic CNS and, in combination with electrophysiological recording and behavioural tests, to try to gain insights into their electrical properties and their roles in neural plasticity e.g. motor skills learning. 

Academic Career
  • 2012-2016 Director, WIBR
  • 2013 FRS
  • 2010 FMedSci
  • 2001-2007 Head of Dept of Biology
  • 1999-2012 Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, UCL
  • 1993-1999 MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, UCL
  • 1985-2001 Dept of Biology UCL
  • 1982-1985 National Institute for Medical Research, London
  • 1978-1982 National Institutes of Health, USA
  • 1978 PhD (Biophysics) King's College London
  • 1973 BSc (Physics) Manchester University

Jolly, S.*, Bazargani, N.*, Quiroga, A.C., Pringle, N.P., Attwell, D.§, Richardson, W.D. § and Li, H. § (2018).  G protein-coupled receptor 37-like 1 modulates astrocyte glutamate transporters and neuronal NMDA receptors and is neuroprotective in ischemia.  Glia 66, 47-61.


Tripathi, R. B., Jackiewicz, M., McKenzie, I.A., Kougioumtzidou, E., Grist, M. and Richardson, W.D. (2017).  Remarkable stability of myelinating oligodendrocytes in mice.  Cell Reports 21, 316-323.


Kougioumtzidou, E., Shimizu, T., Hamilton, N.B., Tohyama, K., Sprengel, R., Monyer, H., Attwell, D.§ and Richardson, W.D.§ (2017).  Signalling through AMPA-type glutamate receptors on oligodendrocyte precursors promotes myelination by enhancing oligodendrocyte survival.  eLife  2017;6:e28080


Xiao, L., Ohayon, D, McKenzie, I.A., Sinclair-Wilson, A., Wright, J.L., Fudge, A.D., Emery, B., Li, H. and Richardson, W.D. (2016).  Rapid production of new oligodendrocytes is required in the earliest stages of motor-skill learning.  Nat Neurosci 19, 1210-1217.


McKenzie, I.A., Ohayon, D., Li, H., Paes de Faria, J., Emery, B., Tohyama, K. and Richardson, W.D. (2014).  Motor skill learning requires active central myelination.  Science 346, 318-322.


Young, K.M., Psachoulia, K., Tripathi, R.B., Dunn, S.-J., Cossell, L., Attwell, D., Tohyama, K. and Richardson, W.D. (2013). Oligodendrocyte dynamics in the healthy adult CNS: evidence for myelin remodelling.  Neuron 77, 873-885.

Further publication information can be viewed at https://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/browse/profile?upi=WDRIC46


2013-2018 Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award " Transcriptional control of CNS myelination in development and maturity"

2012-2017 European Research Council Advanced Grant "MOTOGLIA: axoglial synapses, adult myelination and motor skills learning"

2008-2013 National Institutes of Health "Cellular and genetic origins of astrocytes" (with David Rowitch, UCSF; Charles D Stiles, Harvard Med Sch; Ben Barres, Stanford U)

2008-2013 Medical Research Council Programme "Stem and progenitor cells of the postnatal CNS" (with Nicoletta Kessaris, WIBR)