Associate Director, Burke Neurological Institute Director, Burke-Blythedale Program in Pediatric Clinical Neuroscience Assistant Professor, Brain and Mind Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medicine Dianna E. Willis, Ph.D., is the head of the Laboratory for Axonal and RNA Biology, Director of the Center for Pain Research, and Associate Director at the Burke Neurological Institute, an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medicine, and Director of the Burke-Blythedale Program in Pediatric Clinic Neuroscience. Dr. Willis received her undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1994, and her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the University of Delaware in 2002. Her postdoctoral training at Nemours Biomedical Research at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children from 2002 – 2007 focused on the newly emerging understanding of local translation in neuronal axons.
After completing a visiting scientist position in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology at Vrije Universiteit in the Netherlands in 2007, she returned to Nemours as an Assistant Research Scientist in the Center for Translational Neurobiology. In 2010, Dr. Willis was recruited to be the Director of the Center for Pain Research at the Burke Neurological Institute. Her research has focused on understanding how aberrant axonal translation may lead to maladaptive plasticity as is evident in neuropathic pain and neuropathy. In 2016, she was named Associate Director of the Burke Neurological Institute, and in 2018, Dr. Willis became Director of the Burke-Blythedale Program in Pediatric Clinical Neuroscience.