Jon T. Willie, MD, PhD

Jon T. Willie, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery

The Emory Clinic, Building B, 2nd floor

1365-B Clifton Rd., NE, Ste. 2200
Atlanta, GA 30322

To make an appointment: 404-778-5770



Understanding the mechanisms of arousal is a fundamental problem in neuroscience with high potential to impact numerous neurological diseases. The orexin (also called hypocretin) neuropeptide transmitter system critically orchestrates the activity of multiple brain circuits to produce sustained wake and motivation. Indeed, loss of orexin neurons of the hypothalamus causes the sleep-wake disorder narcolepsy with cataplexy. This disorder is characterized by uncontrollable attacks of sleep and attacks of muscle paralysis triggered by emotion. Loss or dysfunction of the orexin system may also play a role in sleepiness associated with Parkinson disease and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Using animal models, we have demonstrating that replacement of orexin into the brain by direct infusion or gene-bases therapy holds great potential for reversing the sleepiness associated with these disorders. Our research involves translating the use of orexin-based therapies and other neuromodulatory techniques (including deep brain stimulation) into surgical practice for the treatment of sleep attacks associated with narcolepsy or Parkinson disease, cataplexy, and minimally conscious state following TBI.


Areas of Clinical Interest

Movement disorders; epilepsy; pain syndromes; peripheral nerve disorders; traumatic brain injury; spine and spinal cord injury; pituitary tumors; neuro-oncology; hydrocephalus and neuro-endoscopy; surgery for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, narcolepsy, minimally conscious state, and metabolic syndrome; neuromodulation and molecular therapies for CNS.


Select Publications

Link to Dr. Willie's publications in PubMed

Willie JT, Gross RE. 2012. Beyond therapeutic nihilism? The neurosurgical treatment of intracerebral hemorrhage. World Neurosurgery. S1878-80.

Limbrick DD, Lake S, Talcott M, Alexander B, Wight S, Willie JT, Richard D, Genin G, Leuthardt EC. 2012. The BaricProbe: a novel long-term implantable intracranial pressure monitor with an ultrasound-based method of interrogation. Journal of Neurosurgery Pediatrics. 10(6):518-24.

Willie JT, Lim MM, Bennett RE, Azarion AA, Schwetye KE, Brody DL. 2012. Traumatic Brain Injury Disrupts Arousal and Extracellular Orexin Dynamics as Determined by Intracerebral Microdialysis in Mice. Journal of Neurotrauma. 29(10):1908-21.

Kumar A, Keyrouz SG, Willie JT, Dhar R. 2012. Reversible obstructive hydrocephalus from hypertensive encephalopathy. Neurocritical Care. 16(3):433-9.

Kalogiannis M, Hsu E, Willie JT, Chemelli RM, Kisanuki YY, Yanagisawa M, Leonard CS. 2011. Cholinergic modulation of narcoleptic attacks in double orexin receptor knockout mice. PLoS ONE. 2011 13;6(4):e18697

Willie JT, Takahira H, Shibahara M, Hara J, Nomiyama M, Yanagisawa M, Sakurai T. 2011. Ectopic Overexpression of Orexin Alters Sleep/Wakefulness States and Muscle Tone Regulation during REM Sleep in Mice. J. Mol. Neurosci. 43(2):155-61.

Reynolds MR, Willie JT, Zipfel GJ, Dacey RG. 2010. Sexual intercourse and cerebral aneurysmal rupture: Potential mechanisms and precipitants. A review. J. Neurosurgery: 1-9. Posted online June 11, 2010.

Hondo M, Nagai K, Ohno K, Kisanuki Y, Willie JT, Watanabe T, Yanagisawa M, Sakurai T. 2010. Histamine-1 receptor is not required as a downstream effector of orexin-2 receptor in maintenance of basal sleep/wake states. Acta Physiol. 198(3):287-94.

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