Karen Morrison undertook medical training first at the University of Cambridge (Open Entrance Scholarship, 1980, Girton College), and then at Oxford (Magdalen College), qualifying in 1986 and being awarded the George Pickering Prize for top student in the year. Following junior medical jobs in Oxford and London in 1988 she went to the Department of Internal Medicine at Yale University USA, undertaking post doctoral research with Professor Steve Reeders. There she cloned the Goodpasture antigen, one of the first ever antigenic targets to pathogenic antibodies in human disease to be cloned. (Whilst there she also tested prototypes of the first automated thermal cycler machines to be used for the now standard technique of the polymerase chain reaction, PCR).
She returned to Oxford (Magdalen College) in 1990, undertaking an MRC Training Fellowship, with Professors Kay Davies and John Newsom-Davis as supervisors, leading to the award in 1993 of a DPhil for molecular genetic studies in the childhood onset motor neurone disorder of spinal muscular atrophy. A Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship allowed her to continue laboratory research, which expanded to encompass molecular genetic studies in motor neurone disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, MND/ALS, the most common motor nerve disorder of adults. During this time she was appointed as Medical Research Fellow at Corpus Christi College, and completed her clinical training in neurology at the Radcliffe Infirmary, being appointed Honorary Consultant Neurologist in 1998.
She moved to the Bloomer Chair of Neurology at the University of Birmingham in 1999, when she was also appointed as Honorary Consultant Neurologist at the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. Since then she has combined basic and clinical research in neurodegenerative disease with teaching and clinical work. She directs the Birmingham Motor Neurone Disease Care and Research Centre at the University of Birmingham and Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. The main focus of her work is in care of people with the currently incurable disorder of MND/ALS alongside research into best clinical management, studies of novel therapeutic interventions and basic molecular genetic studies into mechanisms in the disease to help develop effective treatments.
Karen enjoys teaching neurology to undergraduates, emphasising how basic science is of relevance to clinical practice, talking about research and medicine to lay groups and in engaging with young people about the excitement of careers in medicine and medical research.
International Parkinson Disease Genomics Consortium (University of Birmingham UK members: Karen E. Morrison, Carl E. Clarke, Catriona Moorby, Joanne Stockton). Imputation of sequence variants for identification of genetic risks for parkinson’s disease: a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies. Lancet, published online February 2, 2011.
The UK Parkinson’s Disease Consortium and The Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 2 (Karen E. Morrison and Carl E Clarke members of UK Parkinson’s Disease Consortium). Dissection of the genetics of parkinson’s disease identifies an additional association 5’ of SNCA and multiple associated haplotypes at 17q21. Human Molecular Genetics 20: 345- 353. 2011.
A Shatunov, K Mok, S Newhouse, ME Weale, B Smith, M Van Es, L Van Den Berg; W Robberecht, O Hardiman, AE Farmer, C M Lewis, W-L Butler, O Abel, PM Andersen, I Fogh, V Silani, BJ Traynor, J Melki, J E Landers, P McGuffin, JD Glass, H Pall, PN Leigh, J Hardy, RH Brown Jr, JF Powell, R Orrell, KE Morrison, PJ Shaw, CE Shaw;A Al-Chalabi. Chromosome 9p21.2 is the only replicable susceptibility locus for sporadic ALS. Lancet Neurology, 9:986-994. 2010.
PM Andersen,S Abrahams, GD Borasio, M de Carvalho,A Chio,P Van Damme,O. Hardiman, K Kollewe,KE Morrison,S Petri,P-F Pradat, V Silani, B Tomik, M Wasner, M Weber. Management of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Chapter 17, European Handbook of Neurological Management: Volume 1. Ed. NE Gilhus, M Brainin and MP Barnes. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2011.
LE Cox, L Ferraiuolo, EF Goodall, PR Heath, A Higginbottom, H Hortiboys, HC Hollinger, JA Jartley, A Brockington, CE Burness, KE Morrison, SB Wharton, AJ Grierson, PG Ince, J Kirby, PJ Shaw. Mutations in CHMP2B in lower motor neuron predominant amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), PLoS One 5(3): e9872. 2010.
A Al-Chalabi, A Dürr, NW Wood, MH Parkinson, A Camuzat, JS Hulot, KE Morrison, A Renton, SD Sussmuth, BG Landwehrmeyer, A Ludolph, Y Agid, A Brice, PN Leigh, G Bensimon. Genetic Variants of the alpha-synuclein Gene SNCA are Associated with Multiple System Atrophy. NNIPPS Genetic Study Group. PLoS One 4(9): e7114. 2010.
J Kirby, EF Goodall, W Smith, JR Highley, R Masanzu, JA Hartley, R Hibberd, HC Hollinger, SB Wharton, KE Morrison, PG Ince, CJ McDermott, PJ Shaw. Broad clinical phenotypes associated with TARDNA binding protein (TARDBP) mutations in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Neurogenetics. 11:217-225. 2010.
S Rollinson, P Rizzu, S Sikkink, M Bake , N Halliwell, J Snowden, BJ Traynor, D Ruano, N Cairns, JD Rohrer, S Mead, J Collinge, M Rossor, E Akay, R Guerreiro, R Rademakers,KE Morrison, P Pastor, E Alonso, P Martinez-Lage, N Graff-Radford,D Neary, P Heutink, DMA Mann, J Van Swieten, SM Pickering-Brown. Ubiquitin Associated Protein 1 is a risk factor for frontotemporal lobar degeneration, Neurobiology of Aging, 30:656-65. 2009