Dr. Johnson-Weaver Promoted to Medical Instructor

By Jamie Botta

Brandi Johnson-Weaver, PhD, has been promoted to medical instructor, effective July 1st, 2023. She previously served as research scientist, senior, in Duke Pathology under the direction of Herman Staats, PhD. During her time in that role, Johnson-Weaver collaborated with Staats to win an Adjuvant Comparison and Characterization contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. This contract was awarded in Sept. 2022, has an annual budget of $1.1 million for up to five years, and aims to compare and characterize adjuvant-induced host immune responses in a mouse model of mucosal immunotherapy for peanut allergy. 

In March 2023, the Staats Lab was awarded a two-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) R21 grant application to support studies to evaluate the use of nasally-administered RNA vaccines expressing a peanut allergen to desensitize pre-existing peanut allergy in a mouse model. This grant represents a collaboration between Staats, Johnson-Weaver, and Kurt Ristroph, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University.  Johnson-Weaver is also a recipient of an NIH-Sponsored student loan repayment award.

Johnson-Weaver earned a Bachelors of Science in Chemistry from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. She joined the Duke Pathology department as a graduate student in 2009, completed her doctoral studies in 2015, and remained a member of Duke Pathology.

The goal of Johnson-Weaver’s research is to develop more effective therapeutics to prevent and treat infectious and allergic diseases. She is specifically interested in developing vaccines and adjuvants that modulate the host immune system to induce protective responses against pathogens and allergens. In order to develop more effective therapeutics for allergies and infectious diseases, Johnson-Weaver is also interested in investigating the influence of environmental conditions on host responses to vaccines and allergens.