Donald R. Johnson, Ph.D.

Department Affiliations
Associate Professor

Immunology, Tumor Biology, Bioinformatics and the Immune System, Interaction of the Immune System with the Central Nervous System

My research deals with the interaction between the immune system and the central nervous system with special focus on the effect of psychological depression on natural killer (NK) cells. NK cells are a component of the immune response that recognizes and destroys virus infected cells, and are important in immunosurveillance to cancer. My main efforts are devoted to the study of biomolecular mechanisms of immune regulation by serotonin and serotonin reuptake inhibitors in vitro and in vivo and the role of exposure to oxidative stress. The ultimate aim of these studies is to understand the complex regulation of the immune system in order to prevent disease and stimulate the immune system to control malignant cell growth. I also study the biocomplexity/bioinformatics of the immune system. The goal of this research is to develop bioinformatics tools for analysis of the complex biological interactions in regulation of the immune system. An additional purpose of this research is to be able to use these for computer simulation experiments of biological interactions.

Education and Training
B.A., University of Minnesota, Microbiology and Biochemistry,1970
Ph.D., University of Illinois, Microbiology, 1977
Post-doctoral Fellow, Karolinska Institute, Department of Tumor Biology, Stockholm, Sweden. 1977-1981

Teaching Activities
Graduate Students: Course Director: Advanced Immunobiology
Introduction to Bioinformatics
Medical Students: Lectures on Viral Immunology and Vaccines 
Notable Publications
Johnson, D.R., Editor, Monoclonal Antibodies: Methods and Protocols Humana Press, Totowa, NJ 2002

Frank, M.G., Wieseler Frank,J.L., Hendricks, Burke, W.J. Johnson, D.R. Age at Onset of Major Depressive Disorder is Associated with Reductions in Natural Killer Cell Number and Activity, Journal of Affective Disorders 71:159-167 2002

Frank, M.G, Hendricks, S.E., Bessette, D., Johnson, D.R., Wieseler Frank, J.L., Burke, W., Levels of Monocyte Reactive Oxygen Species are Associated with Reduced Natural Killer Cell Activity in Major Depressive Disorder. Biological Psychiatry 44:1-6 2001

Frank, M.G., Johnson, D.R., Hendricks, S.E., and Wieseler Frank, J.L. Monocyte 5-HT1A Receptors Mediate Pindobind Suppression of Natural Killer Cell Activity: Modulation by Catalase. International Immunopharmacology 1:247-253 2001

For a detailed list of publications, click here.