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Dr. Michael Williams

Senior Research Fellow
Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University
Box593, Husrargatan 3, Uppsala

Brief Biography:

My doctoral studies, in Molecular Genetics at the University of Notre Dame (USA), focussed on understanding the role of the Toll-like receptor 18-wheeler in the Drosophila larval immune response. My first author EMBO Journal publication (impact 10.124) on the subject, was one of the earliest studies showing the involvement of a Toll-like receptor regulating an innate immune response, and has subsequently been cited 200 times. After this publication, Toll-like receptors were shown to be centrally involved in regulating the human innate and adaptive immune responses. My research on 18-wheeler won the University of Notre Dame Biophysics, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology Academic Excellence Award.

After graduate school, I pursued postdoctoral research in Professor Dan Hultmark's lab at the Umeå Centre for Molecular Pathogenesis (UCMP), Umeå University, focusing on the Drosophila cellular immune response. We demonstrated for the first time that, unlike embryonic development, the two Drosophila Rho-family GTPases Rac1 and Rac2 are non-redundant in the larval immune response. As a result of this important work, other labs published that, along with Rac1 and Rac2, Rho-family GTPases are required for many aspects of the larval immune response. During this same time I was involved in annotating the genome of Tibolium castaneum, which was published in Nature.

My own lab, at the University of Aberdeen, published results detailing that, similar to embryonic circulating immunosurveillance cells (haemocytes) and unlike larval haemocytes, prepupal haemocytes are able to undergo directed cellular migration (accepted by PLoS One). I have no doubt this will open up a whole new area of research possibilities for numerous labs.

I am well respected in the fields of Drosophila innate immunity and Rho-family GTPase signalling. Currently, I am the Editor-in-Chief of Small GTPases, a new journal from Landes Biosciences, which has just been accepted by Pubmed Central. I envisaged and organised this new journal, including recruiting an excellent Editorial Board. I have also organised three international conferences (the Second European Small GTPase Conference, Aussois France (attended by 110 international researchers), the First Scottish Drosophila Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland (attend by 80 international researchers), and previously while I was a Research Assistant Professor at Umeå University I organised the first European Small GTPase Conference (attended by 110 researchers from around Europe).


Academic positions:

Senior Research Fellow, Functional Pharmacology, Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. July-2011-present

Lecturer, Cell and Developmental Biology Program, Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, UK. September 2009-June 2011

Lecturer, Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK. October 2007-June 2011

Research Assistant Professor, Umeå Centre for Molecular Pathogenesis (UCMP), Umeå University, 901 87, Umeå, Sweden. June 2003 – September 2007

Umeå Medical Faculty Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Umeå Centre for Molecular Pathogenesis (UCMP), Umeå University, 901 87, Umeå, Sweden. June 2001-May 2003

Swedish Research Council (VR) Postdoctoral Fellow, Umeå Centre for Molecular Pathogenesis (UCMP), Umeå University, 901 87, Umeå, Sweden. June 1999-May 2001.

Visiting Assistant Professor, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana, 46383-6493, USA, September 1998- June 1999


Research interests:

During my time at the University of Aberdeen, I was introduced to the method of combining whole animal physiology with an extensive molecular-genetic approach. These ideas have lead me to a new integrative approach towards Drosophila research, where instead of just focussing on one pathway or system within the organism, the entire physiological-system is considered. Using this approach, combined with the wide-ranging tools available for Drosophila genetic studies, I began to ask if there is a link between male aggression and fitness trade-offs, and have already been able to show that aggressive behaviour and the homeostatic-system interact.



Any other information:

Graduate work, University of Notre Dame (1994-1999)

While pursuing my doctorate in Molecular Genetics, I became interested in using the remarkable ability of Drosophila genetics to answer questions about the innate immune response. The Toll-like receptor, 18-wheeler, was known to be necessary for embryonic development, but I noticed its intracellular domain was similar to the Interleukin-1 receptor and postulated that 18-wheeler might be involved in regulating the Drosophila immune response.

1.2b Postdoctoral and Research Assistant Professor, Umeå University (1999-2007)

Once my doctoral training was completed, I applied to the lab of Professor Dan Hultmark, in an effort to continue to comprehend the Drosophila innate immune response. This work was joint-funded by two postdoctoral research grants from the Swedish Research Council (1999-2001), for which both I and Professor Hultmark applied. In 2001, I applied, and was awarded, a two-year grant (2001-2003) from the Umeå University Medical Faculty to begin research on the Drosophila cellular immune response. This project lead to 4 primary publications [PNAS (cited 100 times), two Journal of Cell Science papers (2006, cited 33 times; 2007, cited 14 times and Genes to Cells, cited 29 times and 1 invited review article (Journal of Immunology, cited 48 times). I was also involved in annotating the immune regulatory genes of Tribolium castaneum, for which I was on two publications (Nature, cited 182 times and Genome Biology, cited 35 times).


What I think of the idea behind WebmedCentral:

I am very supportive of the ideas behind Webmed central. When I organized my journal, Small GTPases, I tried to convince the Editorial Board that we should have an open-review process and an online blog, similar to PLoS ONe, for each submission. I was very surprized a tteh amount of resistance I received, and in the end I had to retract this idea.

I would, very much, lke to be apart of a forward looking, open review journal.

I hope you will consider me for your ediorial Board.