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Victoria Baxter

Class 2011
Education DVM, Texas A & M University

Dr. Diane Griffin

Current Position Postdoctoral Fellow

Johns Hopkins University

Research Interests

Increased numbers of outbreaks of human encephalomyelitis caused by arthropod-borne alphaviruses have occurred in the last twenty years in the Americas in which they are endemic. Though humans generally represent a rare dead-end host for these viruses, infection results in severe neurological disease with high mortality, and long-term neurologic sequelae resulting from infection, especially in infants and children, can give rise to devastating physical, mental, and financial disabilities.

Sindbis virus, the prototypic alphavirus, causes rash and arthritis in humans but is neurotropic in mice, providing an excellent model for studying alphavirus-induced encephalomyelitis. In susceptible immunocompetant mice, Sindbis virus infection consists of three distinct phases: 1) presence of high levels of both infectious virus and viral RNA; 2) undetectable infectious virus with significant yet declining viral RNA levels; and 3) chronic low-but-detectable steady state viral RNA levels. Since neurons are an extremely valuable but finite and irreplaceable cell population, a noncytolytic mechanism of virus clearance is essential for preservation of functionality. Previous studies have shown that both antibody against Sindbis virus E2 glycoprotein and the cytokine interferon gamma (IFN-g) play a vital role in clearance of virus. However, the mechanisms by which they do so are not fully understood. My project aims to determine the role IFN-g plays in virus replication and clearance and identify the neurological sequelae resulting from Sindbis virus infection in a mouse model of alphavirus encephalitis.


  • Olson EJ, Shaw GC, Hutchinson EK, Schultz-Darken N, Bolton ID, Parker J, Morrison JF, Baxter VK, Metcalf Pate KA, Mankowski JL, Carlson CS. Bone disease in the common marmoset: Radiographic and histological findings. Veterinary Pathology. 2015 Jun 15. pii: 0300985815589354. PMID 26077785.
  • Kulcsar KA, Baxter VK, Abraham R, Nelson A, Griffin DE. The regulatory T cell response is an important determinant of host survival during alphavirus encephalomyelitis. Journal of Virology. 2015 Aug 15;89(16):8280-91. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00173-15. PMID 26041298.
  • Potter MC*, Baxter VK*, Mathey RW, Alt J, Rojas C, Griffin DE, Slusher BS. Neurological sequelae induced by alphavirus infection of the CNS are attenuated by treatment with the glutamine antagonist 6-diazo-5-oxo-l-norleucine. Journal of Neurovirology. 2015 Apr;21(2):159-73. doi: 10.1007/s13365-015-0314-6. PMID 25645378 *co-first authorship
  • Kulcsar KA, Baxter VK, Greene IP, Griffin DE. Interleukin-10 modulation of pathogenic Th17 cells during fatal alphavirus encephalomyelitis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2014 Nov 11;111(45):16053-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1418966111. PMID 25362048.
  • Johnson NM, Egner PN, Baxter VK, Sporn MB, Wible RS, Sutter TR, Groopman JD, Kensler TW, Roebuck BD. Complete protection against aflatoxin B1-induced hepatocellular carcinoma with a synthetic oleanane triterpenoid: molecular signature and genotoxicity threshold. Cancer Prevention Research. 2014 Jul;7(7):658-65. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-13-0430. PMID 24662598.
  • Baxter VK, Shaw GC, Sotuyo NP, Carlson CS, Olson EJ, Zink MC, Mankowski JL, Adams RJ, Hutchinson EK, Metcalf Pate KA. Serum albumin and body weight as biomarkers for the antemortem identification of bone and gastrointestinal disease in the common marmoset. PLoS ONE. 2013 Dec 6;8(12):e82747. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082747 PMID 24324827.
  • Metcalf TU, Baxter VK, Nilaratanakul V, Griffin DE. Recruitment and retention of B cells in the CNS in response to alphavirus encephalomyelitits. Journal of Virology. 2013 Mar;87(5):2420-9. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01769-12. PMID 23255791.