Photo of Dionna Wiliams

Williams, Dionna

Assistant Professor


733 N. Broadway
MRB 833

Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology

The Williams Lab seeks to identify the fundamental mechanisms by which HIV, drugs of abuse, and the antiretroviral therapies used to treat the virus synergize to promote damage to the body. One of the major challenges in HIV eradication is the existence of anatomic reservoirs – organs in which sustained viral replication occurs despite successful treatment. 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 to what occurs in peripheral organs. This promotes a neuroinflammatory environment that contributes to the development of neurologic disorders in people with HIV.

Rubin LH, Xu Y, Norris PJ, Wang X, Dastgheyb R, Fitzgerald KC, Keating SM, Kaplan RC, Maki PM, Anastos K, Springer G, Benning L, Kassaye S, Gustafson DR, Valcour VG, Williams DW. Early Inflammatory Signatures Predict Subsequent Cognition in Long-Term Virally Suppressed Women With HIV. Front Integr Neurosci. 2020;14:20. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2020.00020. eCollection 2020. PubMed PMID: 32390808; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7193823.

Rubin LH, Li Y, Fitzgerald KC, Dastgheyb R, Spence AB, Maki PM, Sharma A, Gustafson DR, Milam J, Weber KM, Adimora AA, Haughey NJ, Ofotokun I, Fischl MA, Konkle-Parker D, Xu Y, Williams DW. Associations between Antiretrovirals and Cognitive Function in Women with HIV. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2021 Mar;16(1):195-206. doi: 10.1007/s11481-020-09910-1. Epub 2020 Mar 24. PubMed PMID: 32212091; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7511435.

Williams DW, Li Y, Dastgheyb R, Fitzgerald KC, Maki PM, Spence AB, Gustafson DR, Milam J, Sharma A, Adimora AA, Ofotokun I, Fischl MA, Konkle-Parker D, Weber KM, Xu Y, Rubin LH. Associations between Antiretroviral Drugs on Depressive Symptomatology in Homogenous Subgroups of Women with HIV. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2021 Mar;16(1):181-194. doi: 10.1007/s11481-019-09899-2. Epub 2020 Jan 13. PubMed PMID: 31933016; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7430262.

Veenhuis RT, Williams DW*, Shirk EN, Abreu CM, Ferreira EA, Coughlin JM, Brown TT, Maki PM, Anastos K, Berman JW, Clements JE, Rubin LH. Higher circulating intermediate monocytes are associated with cognitive function in women with HIV. JCI Insight. 2021 Jun 8;6(11). doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.146215. PubMed PMID: 33914710; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC8262276. * co-first author