Dionna W. Williams PhD

Assistant Professor, Departments of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, and Medicine, Division of Clinical Pharmacology

Telephone Number: 410-955-9770
Fax Number: 410-955-9823

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology; Department of Medicine, Division of Clinical Pharmacology
733 N. Broadway
Room: MRB 849

Areas of Research
Neurobiology of Disease
Cellular + Molecular Neuroscience

Graduate Program Affiliations

Neuroscience Training Program

Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology

Cellular and Molecular Medicine

Molecular Microbiology and Immunology


Neuroscience of HIV

One of the major challenges in HIV eradication is the existence of anatomic reservoirs – organs in which sustained viral replication occur despite successful treatment with antiretroviral therapies. The brain represents one of the most challenging HIV reservoirs, as it is infected as early as four days after primary infection and is separated from the rest of the body by the blood-brain barrier, which prevents antiretroviral therapies from freely entering. As a result, HIV in the brain is not quelled to the same extent as what occurs in peripheral organs. This promotes the development of neurologic disorders, including cognitive dysfunction and mood disorders. The Williams Lab is interested in understanding how HIV, drugs of abuse, and the antiretroviral therapies used to treat the virus synergize to promote neurologic dysfunction, with a focus on neuroimmune response and drug transport mechanisms. Our research is highly translational and collaborative projects with neurologists, psychologists, computational biologists, engineers, and microbiologists are ongoing. Current projects include: 1) antiretroviral therapy extravasation across the blood brain barrier, 2) spatiotemporal localization of antiretroviral therapies in brain, 3) cannabidiol as a means to limit peripheral and microglial inflammatory responses, and 4) contribution of monocyte migration across the blood brain barrier to cognitive decline.

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