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Diane E. Griffin, MD

  • Professor

Departmental Affiliations

Center & Institute Affiliations

Contact Information

615 N. Wolfe Street
Room E5636
Baltimore, Maryland 21205


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PhD, Stanford University, 1970
MD, Stanford University, 1968


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

Gilman Scholar, Johns Hopkins University

  • Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
  • measles viral encephalitis vaccines arboviruses alphaviruses Sindbis virus vaccine immune response
    1. Kulcsar, K.A., Baxter, V.K. and Griffin, D.E. Interleukin-10 modulation of pathogenic Th17 cells during fatal alphavirus encephalomyelitis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111:16053-16058, 2014.
    1. Schultz, K.L.W., Vernon, P.S. and Griffin, D.E. Differentiation of neurons restricts arbovirus replication and increases expression of the alpha isoform of IRF-7. J. Virol. 89:48-60, 2015.
    1. Lin, W-H.W., Pan, C-H, Adams, R.J., Laube, B.L. and Griffin, D.E. Vaccine-induced measles virus-specific T cells do not prevent infection or disease but facilitate subsequent clearance of viral RNA. mBio 5:e01047-14, 2014.
    1. Lin, W-H.W., Kouyos, R.D., Adams, R.J., Grenfell, B and Griffin D.E. Prolonged persistence of measles virus RNA is characteristic of primary infection dynamics. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 109:14989-14994, 2012.
  • Metcalf, T.U., Baxter V.K., Nilaratanaku, V. and Griffin, D.E. Recruitment and retention of B cells in the CNS in response to alphavirus encephalomyelitis. J. Virol. 87:2420-2429, 2013.