Jon T. Willie, MD, PhD

    Assistant Professor

    Emory University Department of Neurosurgery


    Laboratory for Behavioral Neuromodulation


    • BA, University of Texas, 1995
    • PhD, University of Texas Southwestern, 2003
    • MD, University of Texas Southwestern, 2005
    • General Surgery Internship, Washington University, 2006
    • Neurological Surgery Residency, Washington University, 2011



    • American Society of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgeons Biennial Conference Featured Abstract, 2014
    • Emory University School of Medicine Department of Neurosurgery Visiting Professor, 2012
    • Louisiana State University School of Medicine Department of Neurosurgery Visiting Professor, 2011
    • University of Utah School of Medicine Department of Neurosurgery Visiting Professor, 2011
    • University of Virginia School of Medicine Department of Neurosurgery Visiting Professor, 2011
    • University of Iowa School of Medicine Department of Neurosurgery Visiting Professor, 2011
    • 5th Annual Neurosurgery Research Symposium Best Basic Science Research Presentation, 2011
    • AANS Annual Meeting Synthes Resident Craniofacial Award, 2010
    • Department of Neurosurgery Resident Teaching Award, 2009
    • 3rd Annual Neurosurgery Research Symposium Best Basic Science Research Presentation, 2009
    • Department of Neurosurgery Resident Teaching Award, 2008
    • 1st Annual Neurosurgery Research Symposium Best Basic Science Research Presentation, 2007
    • Department of General Surgery Recognition for Resident Teaching, 2006
    • Association for Academic Surgery Student Research Award, 2006
    • UT Southwestern Outstanding Medical Student in Endocrinology, 2005
    • UT Southwestern Outstanding Medical Student in Neurology, 2005

    Clinical Focus

    • Epilepsy
    • Movement disorders
    • Pain syndromes
    • Traumatic brain injury
    • Spine and spinal cord injury
    • Neuro-oncology
    • Hydrocephalus and neuro-endoscopy
    • Surgery for depression
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
    • Narcolepsy
    • Minimally conscious state
    • Metabolic syndrome
    • Neuromodulation and molecular therapies for CNS


    • American Association of Neurological Surgeons 
    • American Epilepsy Society
    • American Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery 
    • Congress of Neurological Surgeons 
    • Sleep Research Society 
    • Society for Neuroscience  


    As a physician-scientist and academic neurosurgeon, I seek to develop novel interventional therapies for neurological disorders. Understanding mechanisms of arousal is a not only a fundamental problem in neuroscience, but also a daily clinical problem in neurology and neurosurgery. The orexin/hypocretin neuropeptide transmitter system critically orchestrates the activity of multiple brain circuits to produce sustained wake and motivation. 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. The orexin system is also degraded in other important neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and traumatic brain injury (TBI) that have sleep-wake disturbances. Using animal models, I have demonstrating that replacement of orexin into the brain by direct infusion or gene-based therapy holds great potential for reversing the sleepiness associated with these disorders. My research now involves translating the use of orexin-based therapies and neuromodulatory techniques, especially brain-computer interfaces and deep brain stimulation, into clinical practice for the treatment of disorders of either deficient or excessive arousal including uncontrollable sleepiness, cataplexy, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and brain injury. My team and collaborators include neuroscientists, computational and biomedical engineers, neurologists, and neurosurgeons. We utilize combinations of invasive electrophysiology, microdialysis, and direct central drug delivery techniques in animal models and human subjects.


    • Gross RE, Willie JT, Drane DL. The Role of Stereotactic Laser Amygdalohippocampotomy in Mesial Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. Neurosurgery Clinics of North America. 27(1). 2016.
    • Willie JT, McCracken DJ, Fernald B, Saindane AM, Drane DL, Barrow DL, Gross RE. Magnetic Resonance Thermometry-Guided Stereotactic Laser Ablation of Cerebral Cavernous Malformations in Drug-Resistant Epilepsy: Imaging and Clinical Results. Neurosurgery. 2015.
    • Willie JT, Gross RE. Role of repeat ablation to treat seizure recurrence following stereotactic laser amygdalohippocampotomy. Neurosurgery. 62(1). 2015.
    • Willie JT, Tung JK, Gross RE. MRI-Guided Stereotactic Laser Ablation. In “Image-Guided Neurosurgery”, edited by AJ Golby, Academic Press, Boston, 2015, P 375-403.
    • Gummadavelli A, Kundishora AJ, Willie JT, Andrew JP, Gerrard JL, Spencer DD, Blumenfeld H. Neurostimulation to improve level of consciousness in patients with epilepsy. Neurosurgical Focus. 38(6). 2015.
    • Shaikh AG, Mewes K, DeLong M, Gross RE, Triche SD, Jinnah HA, Boulis N, Willie JT, Freeman A, Alexander GE, Aia Pratibha, Butefisch CM, Esper CD, Factor SA. Temporal profile of improvement of tardive dystonia after globus pallidus deep brain stimulation. Parkinsonism & Related Disorders. 21(2). 2015.
    • Willie JT, Boulis NM. Pathophysiology of Occipital Neuralgia. In “Neurosurgical Treatment of Pain”, edited by KJ Burchiel, Thieme, 2015.
    • Shaikh AG, Mewes K, Gross RE, Willie JT, Boulis N, DeLong MR. Interventional MRI and anatomically 3D-model-guided DBS placement in globus pallidus internus for Parkinson’s disease and dystonia. Movement Disorders. 29(S451-2). 2014.
    • Drane DL, Glasser M, Voets N, Ojemann J, Saindane A, Loring D, Price M, Ivanisevic M, Phatak V, Willie JT, Meador K, Miller J, Gross RE. Key pathways for visual naming and object recognition revealed by diffusion tensor imaging probabilistic tractography in epilepsy surgery patients. Neurology. 82(10 suppl). 2014.
    • Drane DL, Loring D, Voets N, Price M, Willie JT, Helmers S, Ojemann J, Phatak V, Miller J, Meador K, Gross RE. Stereotactic laser ablation of hippocampus leads to better cognitive outcome than open temporal lobe resections for the treatment of epilepsy. Neurology. 82(10 suppl). 2014.

    For a complete list of Dr. Willie's publications and other works, please click the Google Scholar logo.

    Dr Willie Google Scholar page