Dionna W. Williams, Ph.D. ‘14

Rising Star – Scientific Investigator Award

Dr. Dionna Williams is assistant professor of molecular and comparative pathobiology at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School, where she also teaches in the departments of neuroscience, of pharmacology and molecular sciences, and of medicine in the division of clinical pharmacology. She also is assistant professor of molecular microbiology & immunology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health and co-director of the Central Nervous System Dysfunction Scientific Working Group at Johns Hopkins’s Center for AIDS Research. Dr. Williams’ research focuses on the effects of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and comorbid substance abuse on neuropsychiatric disease, the ability of antiretroviral therapy to effectively limit HIV infection in the brain, and how the immune response shapes neurologic disease in patients with HIV. Her lab is working to identify novel therapies to combat chronic inflammation, and studies how such inflammation contributes to neurologic deficits, including cognitive and mood disorders. She also studies factors contributing to the perpetuation of HIV health disparities, and is deeply involved in mentoring activities with trainees from backgrounds historically underrepresented in science and medicine. Dr. Williams has been honored with an NIDA Early Career Investigator Showcase Travel Award and a Junior Investigator Pioneer Award from the International Society for NeuroVirology, and was named one of 100 Inspiring Black Scientists in America. She has served on committees for the Society for Neuroscience and the 13th International Conference on Cerebral Vascular Biology. Dr. Williams earned her B.S. from Hofstra University and her Ph.D. at Einstein; she then pursued a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins before joining the faculty there.