Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research


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


William D. Richardson

FMedSci  FRS
Central nervous system glia


020 7679 6729
Email: w.richardson@ucl.ac.uk
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

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.

Tsai, H.-H., Li, H., Fuentealba, L., Molofsky, A.V., Taveira Marques, R., Zhuang, H., Tenney, A., Murnen, A.T., Fancy, S.P.J., Merkle, F., Kessaris, N., , A., Richardson, W.D.* and Rowitch, D.H.* (2012). Regional astrocyte allocation regulates CNS synaptogenesis and repair. Science 337, 358-362. * joint senior authors

Richardson, W.D., Young, K.M., Tripathi, R.B. and McKenzie, I. (2011). NG2-glia as multipotent neural stem cells: fact or fantasy? Neuron 70, 661-673.

Li, H., Paes de Faria, J., Andrew, P. Nitarska, J. and Richardson, W.D. (2011). Phosphorylation regulates OLIG2 cofactor choice and the motor neuron-oligodendrocyte fate switch. Neuron 69, 918-929. [highlighted by: Gaber, Z.B. and Novitch, B.G. (2011). Neuron 69, 833-835. also Yates, D. (2011). Nature Reviews Neuroscience 12, 248-249.] F1000 must read http://f1000.com/9443956/

Rivers, L.E., Young, K.M., Rizzi, M., Jamen, F., Psachoulia, K., Wade, A., Kessaris, N. and Richardson, W.D. (2008). PDGFRA/ NG2-positive glia generate myelinating oligodendrocytes and piriform projection neurons in adult mice. Nature Neuroscience 11, 1392-1401. (highlighted by: Kang, S.H. and Bergles, D.E. (2008). Nat. Neurosci. 11, 1365-1367.)

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)