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Tory Patricia Johnson, M.S., Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Tory Patricia Johnson, M.S., Ph.D.
  • Assistant Professor of Neurology


Dr. Johnson completed her doctoral degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the Pathobiology Graduate Training Program with a focus on infectious diseases of the CNS.  She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the NIH where she developed an interest in autoimmune diseases of the CNS. This prompted her to pursue additional training in Rheumatology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where she developed a broad portfolio of projects centered on investigating autoimmune disease mechanisms. In 2016 Dr. Johnson joined the Department of Neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Johnson’s research is focused on understanding the burden and mechanism of autoimmune CNS diseases and the potential links of autoimmune disease processes to infectious diseases. Studies investigating the neurotoxic properties of a recently identified autoantibody in Nodding Syndrome, a unique form of epilepsy, are currently underway.  These studies are focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms by which these antibodies causes neuronal dysfunction and death, characterizing the expression of the antigen in the human brain and modeling the formation and consequences of these autoantibodies in a murine model. Her lab currently collaborates within the Department of Neurology for autoantigen discovery in suspected autoimmune CNS diseases using both biochemical and bioinformatics approaches. Once identified, additional studies to understand the mechanisms of pathogenic immune cells and antibodies are undertaken using cellular and animal models. Dr. Johnson has additional collaborations with investigators in the Division of Rheumatology and Department of Pathology focused on understanding the contribution of autoimmunity and inflammation to CNS disease.

In an independent area of investigation, the Johnson Lab also studies the mechanism by which the HIV-1 protein Tat induces neuroinflammation. Dr. Johnson has previously demonstrated that Tat is expressed by virally infected cells despite anti-retroviral therapy and that Tat can be detected in the CSF of patients with HIV-1. Additionally, the presence of Tat is capable of inducing T-cells to become active and secrete IL-17, a pro-inflammatory cytokine. Further studies to understand the mechanism by which Tat activates T-cells and to characterize their role in the development of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) are currently underway. more


  • Assistant Professor of Neurology

Departments / Divisions



  • Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Maryland) (2011)
  • M.S., Towson University (Maryland) (2005)
  • B.S., Ohio State University (Ohio) (2001)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Johnson has developed a translational research program to understand the interplay between inflammation, autoimmunity, infection and tissue injury in the central nervous system (CNS). The Johnson Lab focuses on identification and characterization of autoantigens in patients with suspected CNS autoimmune disease. In these studies, immune cells, sera and cerebral spinal fluid specimens are obtained from patients with neurological diseases. Using a variety of assays, these samples are analyzed for autoreactivity and self-antigens are identified. Further studies to map the specific peptide sequences recognized can then be performed. The goal of these studies is to gain better insight into the complex pathophysiology of immune mediated CNS disease which will ultimately result in a better personalized therapies for patients. One of Dr. Johnson’s primary interests is to understand the development of pathogenic immune responses. To this end her lab studies the relationship between infection and autoimmunity and collaborates with faculty in Pathology and Rheumatology to understand the consequences of post-translational modifications and modified antigen presentation within the CNS.

Selected Publications

Johnson TP, Tyagi R, Lee PR, Lee MH, Johnson KR, Kowalak J, Elkahloun A, Medynets M, Hategan A, Kubofcik J, Sejvar J, Ratto J, Bunga S, Makumbi I, Aceng JR, Nutman TB, Dowell SF, Nath A. 2017. Nodding syndrome may be an autoimmune reaction to the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus. Sci Transl Med. Feb 15;9(377)

Johnson TP, Patel K, Johnson KR, Maric D, Calabresi PA, Hasbun R, Nath A. 2013. Induction of IL-17 and nonclassical T-cell activation by HIV-Tat protein. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Aug 13;110(33):13588-93.

B. J. Brew, K. Robertson, E. J. Wright, M. Churchill, S. M. Crowe, L. A. Cysique, S. Deeks, J. V. Garcia, B. Gelman, L. R. Gray, T. Johnson, J. Joseph, D. M. Margolis, J. L. Mankowski, B. Spencer. 2015. HIV eradication symposium: will the brain be left behind? Journal of Neurovirology. DOI 10.1007/s13365-015-0322-6.

Johnson TP, Nath A. 2014. New insights into immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome of the central nervous system. Curr Opin HIV AIDS. 2014 Nov;9(6):572-8.

T.P. Johnson, R. Tyagi, K. Patel, N. Schiess, P.A. Calabresi, A. Nath. 2013. Impaired toll-like receptor 8 signaling in multiple sclerosis. Journal of Neuroinflammation. June 21; 10, 74.

Contact for Research Inquiries

600 N Wolfe Street
Pathology 533
Baltimore, MD 21287 map
Phone: 410-502-0843

Activities & Honors


  • Graduate Student Association grant award, Towson University., 2004 - 2005
  • Graduate Student Association grant award, Towson University., 2004 - 2005
  • Graduate Student Association grant award, Towson University., 2005 - 2006
  • Wilfred Hathaway Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year Award, Towson University., 2005 - 2006
  • 10th Annual Young Investigators Day Award for Excellence in Translational Research, Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine., 2008 - 2009
  • Arthur Falek Award for Most Outstanding Presentation by a Young Investigator. Society on NeuroImmune Pharmocology., 2009 - 2010
  • Investigator In Training Award. International Society for Neurovirology., 2010 - 2011
  • The Mentee-Mentor Award in Basic Science Research, Johns Hopkins Postdoctoral Association, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 2016 - 2016
  • 13th Annual Young Investors' Day Award for Excellence in Translational Research, Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 2011 - 2011


  • International Society for Neurovirology, 2010 to present
  • International Society for Neuroimmunology, 2014 to present

Videos & Media

Lectures and Presentations

  • TCR independent activation of TH-17 cells by HIV Tat protein: Role in HAND and IRIS.
    Lecture, International Symposium on NeuroVirology., Milan, Italy (10/01/2010)
  • Tat detection and expression in virally suppressed patients. HIV Eradication: Will the Brain Be Left Behind?
    Lecture, 20th International AIDS conference, Melbourne, Australia (07/18/2014)
  • Nodding Syndrome – An Odyssey in Translational Medicine. Clinical Neuroscience Grand Rounds.
    Lecture, Bethesda, MD. (10/21/2014)
    National Institutes of Health
  • Anti-leiomodin-1 Antibodies in Patients with Nodding Syndrome.
    Lecture, International Congress of Neuroimmunology, ISNI, Mainz, Germany (11/01/2014)
  • Non-classical T cell activation by HIV-Tat mediates CNS-immune reconstitution syndrome. Neuroimmunology Symposium.
    Lecture, Bethesda, MD. (02/09/2014)
    National Institutes of Health
  • Nodding Syndrome – An Odyssey in Translational Medicine
    Seminar, MB3 Seminar Series, Towson, MD. (10/30/2015)
    Towson University
  • Nodding Syndrome as an Autoimmune Disorder in Reaction to Onchocerca volvulus.
    Seminar, Immunopathology Seminar Series, Baltimore, MD. (11/20/2015)
    Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
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