Hannah Johnson

College of Medicine – Tucson
Year Entered Program: 
Degrees Received: 

B.S. in Biological Sciences from Arizona State University, 2014

PhD 4
Thesis Advisor: 
Dr. Anita Koshy
Thesis Research: 

My research focuses on the host-parasite interface by examining the affects of Toxoplasma gondii infection on different subregions of the neuron. T. gondii preferentially invades and encysts in neurons, lying dormant in the CNS and occasionally reactivating to cause severe neurological disease. Most of these long-lasting cysts are in neuronal processes (axons or dendrites), presenting an interesting question of whether neurons can fight off infections in their soma, ships T. gondii into it's processes, or whether T. gondii travels to the axon for it's own purposes. My project investigates these possibilites. By using T. gondii as a tool to understand a neuron's response to infection, stress, and inflammation, we can not only find new drugs to treat cysts in the CNS, we will also define the role of each compartment of the neuron in this response.

About Me: 

From Phoenix, I was drawn to Tucson for dual degree training not only because of the excellent educational program but also for the beautiful countryside and cooperative environment. After growing up with 5 siblings, it was important to me to settle in a supportive program! My hobbies include hiking, running, watching films, and relaxing with friends. Eventually I aim to conduct translational research for neurodegenerative diseases.

Honors & Awards: 
  • ARCS Scholar 2020-2022
  • Broadening Horizons Travel Award, March 2019
  • Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation Young Investigator Scholarship, March 2019
  • GPSC Travel Award, March 2019
  • Commitment to Underserved People Leadership Award, May 2018
  • Rookie of the Year, Institutional Award from Biodesign Institute, September 2014
  • Dean’s Honor List, Arizona State University, 2010-2014
  • ASU Merit Scholar Scholarship, 2010-2014
  • Graduated Summa Cum Laude from ASU
  • "Rookie of the Year" in 2015, from the Biodesign Institute at ASU
Selected Publications: 

Johnson, HJ & Koshy, AA. “Latent Toxoplasmosis Effects on Rodents and Humans: How Much is Real and How Much is Media Hype?” mBio 11, e02164-19 (2020).

Merritt EF*, Johnson HJ*, Wong ZS, Buntzman AS, Conklin AC, Cabral CM, Romanoski CE, Boyle JP, Koshy AA. Transcriptional Profiling Suggests T Cells Cluster around Neurons Injected with Toxoplasma gondii Proteins. mSphere. 2020 Sep 2;5(5):e00538-20. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00538-20. PMID: 32878927; PMCID: PMC7471001.

*cofirst authors, order decided by seniority