Meet a PennMedicine Researcher

Allison Willis, MD, MSCI

Allison Willis, MD, MSCI

Allison Willis, MD, MSCI, Associate Professor of Neurology and of Epidemiology, is the recipient of this year’s Marjorie A. Bowman New Investigator Research Award, which recognizes a junior faculty member whose research has illuminated a fundamental clinical problem or improved the organization and delivery of health care. 

Dr. Willis is a pioneer and innovator in the field of translational neuroepidemiology and neurology health services research, a discipline that is in rapid evolution and has substantial implications for the growing population of adults and children with neurological disorder, particularly older adults who are at risk for a neurodegenerative disease. Dr. Willis combines her skills in analytical and spatial epidemiology to produce research focused on translational neuroepidemiology research questions to inform basic science research, health care practices, and healthcare policy. She is an emergent leader in health services, pharmacoepidemiology and outcomes research in neurology. As an example, Dr. Willis published one of the first studies demonstrating that there are substantial gaps in guideline adherent care for Parkinson’s disease (PD), even among uniformly insured populations. She then quantified the burden of avoidable health events associated therewith, and identified specific targets for reducing these disparities. Dr. Willis recently led a PCORI-funded team to build a ten-site research network for the study of sex differences and disparities in PD, the Women and PD Teams to Advance Learning and Knowledge (Women and PD TALK). An independently funded NIH researcher, her recent work focuses on the clinical and health impacts of drug-drug and drug-disease interactions for neurological disease populations, with intent to inform clinical decision-making and improve drug safety. Described by a colleague as an “internationally renowned physician-scientist and educator whose accomplishments are fundamental to our understanding of neuroepidemiology, neurology health outcomes, and health services research”, Dr. Willis received the prestigious 2015 American Academy of Neurology’s Jon Stolk Award, given annually to the most outstanding young clinician-scientist in Movement Disorders in the United States.