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Diane E. Griffin, MD

Alfred and Jill Sommer Professor and Chair in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology


Departmental Affiliation(s):

Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

Center & Institute Affiliation(s):

Contact Information

615 North Wolfe Street
Suite- E5132
Baltimore , Maryland   21205


SciVal Experts Research Profile


MD , Stanford University , 1968
PhD , Stanford University


Alphaviruses and acute encephalitis ¡X Alphaviruses are transmitted by mosquitoes and cause encephalitis in mammals and birds. We study Sindbis virus, an alphavirus that causes encephalitis in mice. The outcome of Sindbis virus infection is determined by the virulence of the virus, the age of the mouse at the time of infection, the genetic background of the mouse and the immune response. Sindbis virus infects neurons in the brain and spinal cord and causes apoptosis of neurons and fatal disease in young animals but not in older animals. Mature neurons are protected from induction of cell death and become persistently infected. More virulent strains of Sindbis virus kill mature neurons through improved virus replication and by inducing an pathologic immune response. A gene on chromosome 2 is an important determinant of susceptibility to fatal encephalitis.

In nonfatal disease, antibody is a primary mechanism by which virus is cleared from the nervous system. In addition, interferon-gamma produced by T cells can decrease virus replication in some populations of neurons also by an noncytolytic mechanism. Clearance of infectious virus occurs within 7-8 days without harming the infected cells.  However, it takes several weeks to decrease the levels of viral RNA to a low level that is persistent. We are determining the mechanisms of noncytolytic clearance of virus and viral RNA from neurons.

Measles virus, immune response, and vaccines ¡X Measles is an important cause of childhood morbidity and mortality, partly due to increased susceptibility to other infections caused by virus-induced immune suppression. Monocytes, lymphocytes, epithelial cells and endothelial cells are infected during measles.  Infectious virus is cleared during the rash phase of illness, but viral RNA is cleared slowly over months. We are studying the effect of the immune response on clearance of measles virus and RNA in infected humans and rhesus macaques.  We are also studying the immune response to a variety of measles vaccines delivered both parenterally and by aerosol to identify the determinants of protective immunity.


Honors and Awards

American Academy of Microbiology

National Academy of Sciences

Institute of Medicine

Maryland Women's Hall of Fame

Pioneer Award, International Society for Neurovirology

Rudolf Virchow Medal, University of Wurzburg

Wallace Sterling Lifetime Alumni Achievement Award, Stanford University

Gilmsn Scholar, Johns Hopkins University

  • Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
  • measles
  • viral encephalitis
  • vaccines
  • arboviruses
  • alphaviruses
  • Sindbis virus
  • vaccine
  • immune response
  • Ng, C.G., Coppens, I., Govindarajan, D., Pisciotta, J., Shulaev, V. and Griffin, D.E. Effect of host cell lipid metabolism on alphavirus replication, virion morphogenesis, and infectivity. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105:16326-16331, 2008.

  • Sutcliffe, C.G., Scott, S., Mugala, N., Ndhlovu, Z., Monze M., Quinn, T.C., Cousens, S. Griffin D.E. and Moss, W.J. Survival from 9 months of age among HIV-infected and uninfected Zambian children prior to the availability of antiretroviral therapy. Clin. Infect. Dis. 47:837-844, 2008.

  • Pan, C-H, Jimenez, G., Nair, N., Wei, Q, Adams, R.J., Polack, F.P., Rolland, A., Vilalta, A. and Griffin, D.E. Use of Vaxfectin with DNA vaccine encoding the measles virus hemagglutinin and fusion proteins protects juvenile and infant rhesus macaques against measles. Clin. Vaccine Immunol. 15:1214-1221, 2008.

  • Garcia, M. Yu, X.F., Griffin D.E. and Moss, W.J. Measles virus inhibits human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcription and replication by blocking cell-cycle progression of CD4+ T lymphocytes. J. Gen. Virol. 89:984-993, 2008.

  • Greene, I.P., Lee, E-Y, Prow, N., Ngwang, B. and Griffin, D.E. Protection from fatal viral encephalomyelitis: AMPA receptor antagonists have a direct effect on the inflammatory response to infection. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105:3575-3580, 2008.