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Dr Caroline Helen Williams-Gray BMBCh MRCP PhD

Dr Caroline Helen Williams-Gray, BMBCh MRCP PhD

Clinical Lecturer, Department of Clinical Neurosciences

Junior Research Group Leader, John Van Geest Centre for Brain Repair


Biography:

I trained in medicine at Cambridge University, and then Oxford Clinical School, graduating in 2001. After completing general medical training and gaining the MRCP in 2004, I completed a PhD in Roger Barker's lab in the department of Clinical Neurosciences, Cambridge (2008), supported by a Patrick Berthoud Clinical Research Fellowship. My thesis explored cognitive dysfunction in early Parkinson’s disease and helped to establish the heterogeneous nature of these deficits in PD and to uncover their genetic basis. I subsequently returned to specialist registrar training in Clinical Neurology before gaining a Clinical Lectureship in 2013. I am now establishing a research group at the John Van Geest Centre for Brain Repair investigating the mechanistic basis of cognitive problems and dementia in Parkinson’s disease.

Departments and Institutes

Clinical Neurosciences:

Research Interests

My work focuses on cognitive dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease. This is a common feature of the disease, with around half of patients developing dementia within the first 10 years from diagnosis, which has a devastating impact on quality of life of both the patients and their families. My research to date has used epidemiological methods to describe how cognitive problems evolve over time in a large community-based cohort of newly diagnosed Parkinson’s disease patients (the CamPaIGN study); explored the neurobiological basis of working memory and planning deficits through functional MRI studies; and identified key clinical and genetic predictors of dementia in Parkinson’s disease. We are now investigating the mechanistic basis of dementia in PD. We are particularly interested in the role that inflammation and the immune response might play, and we are exploring this through a number of approaches including examination of post-mortem brains as well as studying peripheral markers of inflammation and immune function in PD patients. 

Key Publications

Winder-Rhodes SE. Barker RA, Williams-Gray CH. The pathological and prognostic heterogeneity of Mild Cognitive Impairment in Parkinson’s disease. In: Emre M, editor. Cognitive Impairment and Dementia in Parkinson’s Disease, 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press, 2015: 223-240 

Barker RA, Williams-Gray CH. Mild Cognitive Impairment and Parkinson's Disease - Something to Remember. Journal of Parkinson's disease 2014;4(4):651-656.

Williams-Gray CH, Mason SL, Evans JR, Foltynie T, Brayne C, Robbins TW, Barker RA. The CamPaIGN study of Parkinson’s disease: 10 year outlook in an incident population-based cohort. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2013; 84(11):1258-64.

Williams-Gray CH, Barker RA. The genetics of behaviour and cognition in Parkinson’s disease. In: Aarsland D, Cummings J, Weintraub D, and Chaudhuri R, editors.  Neuropsychiatric and cognitive changes in Parkinson's disease and related movement disorders: diagnosis and management. Cambridge University Press, 2013:25-39.

Williams-Gray CH, Evans JR, Goris A, Foltynie T, Ban M, Robbins TW, Brayne C, Kolachana BS, Weinberger DR, Sawcer SJ, Barker RA. The distinct cognitive syndromes of Parkinson's disease: 5 year follow-up of the CamPaIGN cohort. Brain 2009; 132: 2958-69.

Williams-Gray CH, Goris A, Saiki M, et al. Apolipoprotein E genotype as a risk factor for susceptibility to and dementia in Parkinson's disease. J Neurol 2009;256:493-8.

Williams-Gray CH, Hampshire A, Barker RA, Owen AM. Attentional control in Parkinson's disease is dependent on COMT val 158 met genotype. Brain. 2008; 131: 397-408.

Williams-Gray CH, Hampshire A, Robbins TW, Owen AM, Barker RA. COMT val158met genotype influences frontoparietal activity during planning in patients with Parkinson’s disease. J Neurosci 2007;27:4832-8.

Williams-Gray CH, Foltynie T, Brayne CE, Robbins TW, Barker RA. Evolution of cognitive dysfunction in an incident Parkinson's disease cohort. Brain 2007;130:1787-98.

Goris A,* Williams-Gray CH,* Clark GR, Foltynie T, Lewis SJ, Brown J, Ban M, Spillantini MG, Compston A, Burn DJ, Chinnery PF, Barker RA, Sawcer SJ. Tau and alpha-synuclein in susceptibility to, and dementia in, Parkinson's disease. Ann Neurol 2007; 62:145-153 (* Joint first authors).