Bonny L. Dickinson, PhD
  • Associate Professor Microbiology/Immunology
Academic Record:
  • Santa Clara University 1991 BS Biology, Magna Cum Laude
  • Tulane University 1995 PhD Microbiology and Immunology
Fellowships:
  • Postdoctoral fellowship in Biochemistry, Drs. Joel Moss and Martha Vaughan, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD
  • Postdoctoral fellowship in Gastrointestinal Cell Biology, Dr. Wayne Lencer, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA
  • Instructor in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA
  • Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA
  • Assistant Professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
  • Distinguished faculty member, Center of Excellence in Oral and Craniofacial Biology, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA
  • Associate member, Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium, New Orleans, LA
  • Full member of the LSUHSC Graduate Faculty
  • Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, Lewisburg, WV
Research:

My lab is focused on the biology of dendritic cells, cells that orchestrate the immune response to pathogens and vaccines. Dendritic cells derive their name from the Greek word déndron, which means tree and this perfectly describes their beautiful branched morphology.

Dendritic cells are present nearly everywhere in the body and they hunt for pathogens such as bacteria and viruses or their products (toxins). When dendritic cells find pathogens they take them up and this initiates a complex process termed functional maturation. As they mature, dendritic cells migrate to lymph nodes where they find and educate T cells as to the nature of the pathogenic attack.

In this way, dendritic cells stimulate robust and protective immune responses. Our interest is in how the normal aging process affects dendritic cells. As we age, our bodies become less able to detoxify metabolic byproducts termed reactive oxygen species.

Our cells have several antioxidant defense mechanisms in place to combat the accumulation of these radicals. Glutathione is the most abundant antioxidant and as we age it becomes less able to maintain cellular redox homeostasis.

In fact, disturbances in glutathione homeostasis are implicated in the etiology and/or progression of several human diseases including inflammatory, immune, metabolic, and neurodegenerative diseases as well as cancer.

We study how glutathione depletion, a hallmark of the aging and diseased host, impairs dendritic cell function. Our results show depletion of intracellular glutathione interferes with dendritic cell activation of T cells.

The mechanisms behind this phenomenon are being elucidated in our ongoing studies and we encourage student involvement in every aspect of this research. Other areas of interest: transepithelial transport, mucosal immunology, mucosal adjuvants

Courses Taught:
  • Medical Microbiology and Immunology
  • Gastrointestinal System
  • Nervous System
  • Microanatomy immune system laboratory