Dr. Brown received her doctoral degree from The Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in Microbiology and Immunology. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in HIV-1 pathogenesis at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center and joined the Department of Neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2004. Now an Assistant Professor at Hopkins, Dr. Brown’s research is focused on elucidating the role of key macrophage host cell factors that are critical for HIV replication and neuropathogenesis using cellular, molecular, and genetic approaches. Current studies are focused on the role of osteopontin (OPN) in regulating inflammatory signaling pathways and function in macrophages and uncovering the molecular mechanisms by which OPN stimulates HIV replication in this cell type. OPN is upregulated in several neurodegenerative diseases including HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) however its role in these pathogenic processes is not understood. Studies are underway to begin to fill this gap in knowledge.
Combination antiviral therapy is effective at suppressing HIV in the periphery, but the continued high prevalence of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) strongly suggests that HIV persistence predominantly in macrophages and microglia in the central nervous system (CNS) contributes to neuropathogenic processes. A second active area of investigation is to identify and study the molecular mechanisms for the establishment and maintenance of latent HIV reservoirs in tissue macrophages/microglia. In this regard, Dr. Brown and colleagues developed an in vitro model to study HIV latency and persistence in primary human monocyte-derived macrophages that is amenable to technologies capable of analyzing cells at the resolution of single-cells.