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Professor Karen E Morrison BA, MA, BM BCh, DPhil, FRCP

Associate Dean, Education, Professor of Neurology and Director of Education, Faculty of Medicine, Honorary Consultant Neurologist, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

Professor Karen E Morrison's photo

Karen Morrison is Associate Dean for Education, and Director of Education, Professor of Neurology in the Faculty of Medicine. She is also an Honorary Consultant Neurologist at University Hospital Southampton.

Karen graduated in Medicine from the University of Cambridge (1983, BA, 1986 MA) and University of Oxford (1986, BMBCh). Following postdoctoral research in the Department of Internal Medicine at Yale University USA, she returned to Oxford supported by MRC and Wellcome Trust Fellowships, undertaking research into inherited disorders of motor nerves. She was appointed Medical Research Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford and completed her clinical training in neurology at the Radcliffe Infirmary, where she was appointed Honorary Consultant Neurologist in 1998. In 1999 she took up the post of Bloomer Professor of Neurology at the University of Birmingham, combining research into molecular genetic mechanisms in neurodegenerative disease with neurology/neuroscience teaching and overview and strategic development of the undergraduate MBChB final year. As a clinical neurologist she co-directed the Birmingham Motor Neurone Disease Care and Research Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and also led the first national service for adults with Wolfram Syndrome.

She has published over 150 peer reviewed articles, mainly on clinical and molecular genetic aspects of neurodegenerative disease. Her laboratory research has investigated molecular mechanisms in Motor Neurone Disease and Parkinson’s disease, underpinned by establishing large DNA banks linked to clinical and epidemiological data. She serves on several national and international panels advising on clinical and research aspects of neurodegeneration.

Karen moved to the University of Southampton in 2016, to lead the education programmes within the Faculty of Medicine. Current key roles include ensuring that all Faculty programmes are up-to-date, relevant and responsive so that graduates are equipped with the clinical, academic and professional skills to ensure successful careers in medicine and research as lifelong learners.


BA (1983), MA (1987) Medical Sciences, University of Cambridge
BM, BCh University of Oxford, 1986
Member, Royal College of Physicians (London) 1988
DPhil, University of Oxford, Faculty of Clinical Medicine, 1993
Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training, Neurology, 1998
Fellow, Royal College of Physicians (London) 2002


April 2016 onwards: Professor of Neurology, Director of Education, Associate Dean Education and Student Experience, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton

1999 – 2016: Bloomer Professor of Neurology, School of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham; Honorary Consultant Neurologist, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust

1993 – 1999: Wellcome Trust Career Development/Clinician Scientist Fellow, Department of Clinical Neurology, University of Oxford

1990 – 1993: MRC Training Fellow, Department of Clinical Neurology, University of Oxford

1989 – 1990: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Internal Medicine and Human Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, Connecticut, USA

Awards and Distinctions:
  • University of Cambridge Open Entrance Scholarship, 1979, Joint Cambridge Colleges Entrance Examinations, Medical Sciences
  • H Barkley Memorial Prize, Girton College, Cambridge 1983
  • First place in Paediatrics, University of Oxford (Sophie Smallwood Prize) 1985
  • First place in Oxford Final BM BCh Examinations (George Pickering Prize) 1986
  • Oxford Medical Graduates Prize 1986
  • MRC Training Fellowship, 1990-1993
  • Wellcome Trust Career Development/Clinician Scientist Fellowship, 1993-1999
  • Medical Research Fellowship, Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford, 1994-1997
  • Award for Excellence in Teaching, School of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Birmingham 2014


Research interests


Molecular and genetic studies in neurodegeneration – particular focus on motor neurone disease MND/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. Investigation of both sporadic and familial disease, genome wide association studies, whole genome sequencing studies, investigation of glutamate excitotoxicity.

Establishing large DNA banks from people with various neurodegenerative disorders, linked to clinical and epidemiological data, including the UK MND Biobank (funded by the MND Association UK) and Parkinson’s Disease DNA Bank ‘PDGEN’ (funded via MRC and Parkinson’s UK). Samples from these banks are widely used in large collaborative research studies, nationally and internationally. Work to date has included several genome wide association studies including studies of copy number variation and homozygosity mapping.

Clinical research in motor neurone disease, with interests in therapeutic clinical trials, standards of care and end-of-life decision making.


Research group

Medical Education

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Book Chapters

  • Anderson, P. M., Abrahams, S., Borasio, G. D., de Carvalho, M., Chio, A., Van Damme, P., ... Weber, M. (2011). Management of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. In N. E. Gilhus, M. Brainin, & M. P. Barnes (Eds.), European Handbook of Neurological Management Volume 1 (pp. 283-310). Chichester, GB: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Morrison, K. E. (2009). Brain and nervous system. In S. Jarvis (Ed.), Women's Health for Life London, GB: Dorling Kindersley.
  • Morrison, K. E., & Harding, A. E. (1994). Disorders of the motor neuron. In A. E. Harding (Ed.), Genetics in Neurology (Bailliere's Clinical Neurology). London, GB: Bailliere Tindall.
  • Davies, K. E., Daniels, R. J., Morrison, K. E., Francis, M. J., & Suthers, G. K. (1992). Molecular studies of spinal muscular atrophy. In Molecular Genetics and Neurology (pp. 83-85). London, GB: Smith-Gordon & Co Ltd.




Professor Karen E Morrison
Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Building 85, Life Sciences Building, Highfield Campus, Southampton, SO171BJ

Room Number: SGH/AB217/MP801

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