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Bhawna Poonia Ph.D.

Academic Title: Assistant Professor
Primary Appointment: Medicine
Location: IHV S521
Phone: 410-706-4386

Personal History:

After completing DVM and PhD degrees from school of veterinary medicine at CCS Haryana Agricultural University, India, I began my research career as post-doctoral fellow at Cornell University in 2001 in the field of viral immunopathogenesis where I researched oncogenic viruses of poultry. Afterwards, I transitioned to comparative pathology studying HIV infection using SIV-rhesus macaque model at Tulane National Primate Research Center and later on when I joined Institute of Human Virology as Research Associate in 2007. I began my independent career as Assistant Professor in 2010 with focus on immunopathology and immune therapy in chronic diseases including viral infections HIV, HBV, HCV and cancer. Currently, I lead projects that investigate immune dysfunction during chronic HBV and/or HCV/HIV infections with the goal of informing treatment/vaccination approaches.

Research Interests:

Major research focus of my lab is investigation into mechanisms of immune dysfunction during chronic virus infections. Current projects in the lab investigate lymphocyte immune phenotypes, transcriptional profiles, and functional states that underlie HBV persistence. We are also investigating the role of adaptive immunity in clearance of chronic HCV infection treated with interferon-free DAA therapy as well as relevance of immunity in preventing re-infection in high-risk populations such as HIV co-infected and/or injection drug users.


  1. Ponnia B. Adoptive transfer of aminobisphonate-expanded Vγ9Vδ2+ T cells does not control HIV replication in a humanized mouse model. Immunotherapy. 2016 May;8(5):521-6. PMID: 27140407.
  2. Ponnia B, Kottilil S. Newer therapeutics for hepatitis C. Ann Transl Med. 2016 Jan;4(2):31. PMCID: PMC4731604
  3. Ponnia B, Pauza CD. Levels of CD56+TIM-3- effector CD8 T cells distinguish HIV natural virus suppressors from patients receiving antiretroviral therapy. PLoS One. 2014 Feb 10;9(2):e88884. PMCID: PMC3919829.
  4. Pauza CD, Ponnia B, Li H, Cairo C, Chaudhry S. γδ T Cells in HIV Disease: Past, Present, and Future. Front Immunol. 2015 Jan 30;5:687. PMCID: PMC4311680.
  5. Jain A, Ponnia B, So EC, Vyzasatya R, Burch EE, Olsen HS, Mérigeon EY, Block DS, Zhang X, Schulze DH, Hanna NN, Twadell WS, Yfantis HG, Chan SL, Cai L, Strome SE. Tumour antigen targeted monoclonal antibodies incorporating a novel multimerisation domain significantly enhance antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity against colon cancer. Eur J Cancer. 2013 Oct;49(15):3344-52. PMID: 23871153.
  6. Zapata JC, Ponnia B, Bryant J, Davis H, Ateh E, George L, Crasta O, Zhang Y, Slezak T, Jaing C, Pauza CD, Goicochea M, Moshkoff D, Lukashevich IS, Salvato MS. An attenuated Lassa vaccine in SIV-infected rhesus macaques does not persist or cause arenavirus disease but does elicit Lassa virus-specific immunity. Virol J. 2013 Feb 12;10:52. PMCID: PMC3602176.
  7. Li H, Chaudhry S, Ponnia B, Shao Y, Pauza CD. Depletion and dysfunction of Vγ2Vδ2 T cells in HIV disease: mechanisms, impacts and therapeutic implications. Cell Mol Immunol. 2013 Jan;10(1):42-9. doi: 10.1038/cmi.2012.50. Epub 2012 Dec 17. Review. PMCID: PMC3753036.
  8. Zapata JC, Carrion R Jr, Patterson JL, Crasta O, Zhang Y, Mani S, Jett M, Ponnia B, Djavani M, White DM, Lukashevich IS, Salvato MS. Transcriptome analysis of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells exposed to Lassa virus and to the attenuated Mopeia/Lassa reassortant 29 (ML29), a vaccine candidate. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2013 Sep 12;7(9):e2406. PMCID: PMC3772037.
  9. Ponnia B, Pauza CD. Gamma delta T cells from HIV+ donors can be expanded in vitro by zoledronate/interleukin-2 to become cytotoxic effectors for antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. Cytotherapy. 2012 Feb;14(2):173-81. PMID: 22029653
  10. Ponnia B, Kijak GH, Pauza CD. High affinity allele for the gene of FCGR3A is risk factor for HIV infection and progression. PLoS One. 2010 Dec 20;5(12):e15562. PMCID: PMC3004964.
  11. Ponnia B, Pauza CD, Salvato MS. Role of the Fas/FasL pathway in HIV or SIV disease. Retrovirology. 2009 Oct 15;6:91. PMCID: PMC2772842
  12. Ponnia B, Salvato MS, Yagita H, Maeda T, Okumura K, Pauza CD. Treatment with anti-FasL antibody preserves memory lymphocytes and virus-specific cellular immunity in macaques challenged with simian immunodeficiency virus. Blood. 2009 Aug 6;114(6):1196-204. PMCID: PMC2723015.
  13. Wang X, Rasmussen T, Pahar B, Ponnia B, Alvarez X, Lackner AA, Veazey RS. Massive infection and loss of CD4+ T cells occurs in the intestinal tract of neonatal rhesus macaques in acute SIV infection. Blood. 2007 Feb 1;109(3):1174-81. PMCID: PMC1785148.
  14. Ponnia B, Wang X, Veazey RS. Distribution of simian immunodeficiency virus target cells in vaginal tissues of normal rhesus macaques: implications for virus transmission. J Reprod Immunol. 2006 Dec;72(1-2):74-84. PMID: 16956666.
  15. Ponnia B, Dunn PA, Lu H, Jarosinski KW, Schat KA. Isolation and molecular characterization of a new Muscovy duck parvovirus from Muscovy ducks in the USA. Avian Pathol. 2006 Dec;35(6):435-41. PubMed PMID: 17121731.
  16. Ponnia B, Walter L, Dufour J, Harrison R, Marx PA, Veazey RS. Cyclic changes in the vaginal epithelium of normal rhesus macaques. J Endocrinol. 2006 Sep;190(3):829-35. PubMed PMID: 17003283.
  17. Ponnia B, Nelson S, Bagby GJ, Zhang P, Quniton L, Veazey RS. Chronic alcohol consumption results in higher simian immunodeficiency virus replication in mucosally inoculated rhesus macaques. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2006 Jun;22(6):589-94. PubMed PMID: 16796534.
  18. Ponnia B, Nelson S, Bagby GJ, Veazey RS. Intestinal lymphocyte subsets and turnover are affected by chronic alcohol consumption: implications for SIV/HIV infection. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2006 Apr 15;41(5):537-47. PubMed PMID: 16652027.
  19. Ponnia B, Nelson S, Bagby GJ, Zhang P, Quniton L, Veazey RS. Chronic alcohol consumption results in higher simian immunodeficiency virus replication in mucosally inoculated rhesus macaques. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2005 Oct;21(10):863-8. PMID: 16225413.
  20. Ponnia B, Charan S. Early and transient induction of nitric oxide (NO) in infectious bursal disease virus infection is T-cell dependent: a study in cyclosporin-A treated chicken-model. Indian J Exp Biol. 2005 Feb;43(2):192-6. PMID: 15782823.
  21. Ponnia B, Charan S. Infiltration by CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes in bursa of chickens infected with Infectious Bursal Disease Virus (IBDV): strain-specific differences. Indian J Exp Biol. 2004 Aug;42(8):823-9. PMID: 15573535.
  22. Ponnia B, Charan S. T-Cell suppression by cyclosporin-A enhances infectious bursal disease virus infection in experimentally infected chickens. Avian Pathol. 2001 Aug;30(4):311-9. PMID: 19184916.
  23. Ponnia B, Sharma AK. Modulation of lympho-proliferative responses of ovine peripheral blood mononuclear cells by Mycoplasma mycoides ssp. mycoides (LC type). Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 1998 Aug 31;64(4):323-35. PubMed PMID: 9764725.