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William Scott Agnew, Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. William Scott Agnew, Ph.D.
  • Professor of Physiology


Dr. William Scott Agnew is a professor of physiology and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research focuses on the molecular mechanisms regulating the structure and function of ion channels in the human nervous system.

Dr. Agnew joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1992. He later served as Director of the Department of Physiology, stepping down from that position in 2004. more


  • Professor of Physiology

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Research Summary

Dr. Agnew’s laboratory is examining the structure, mechanism and regulation of channels that mediate the action potential in nerve and muscle, as well as intracellular calcium concentrations. Much of the lab’s work has centered on voltage-activated sodium channels responsible for the inward currents of the action potential. These studies encompass biochemical, molecular biological and biophysical studies of sodium channel structure, gating and conductance mechanisms, the stages of channel biosynthesis and assembly, and mechanisms linked to channel neuromodulation. In recent molecular cloning and expression studies we have characterized mutations in the human muscle sodium channel that appear to underlie certain inherited myopathies. New studies being pursued in our group also address the questions of structure, receptor properties and biophysical behavior of intracellular calcium release channels activated by inositol-1,4,5-triphosphate. These channels are expressed at extremely high levels in selected cells of the central nervous system, and may play a role in modulating neuronal excitability.

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