Tamika Payne, Ph.D.

Tamika was born and raised in Guyana, South America and immigrated to the United States at age six. In May 2009, Tamika graduated with her B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) where she was a Meyerhoff, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and MARC U*STAR Scholar as well as an UNCF/ Merck Undergraduate Fellow. In 2014, Tamika finished her Ph.D. as a member of the laboratory of Dr. Georgia Tomaras in the Molecular Genetics and Microbiology program at Duke University. Tamika’s dissertation work focused on elucidating the antigen specificity, genetic signature(s), and mechanism of genetic regulation at work in CD8+ T cells that can potently inhibit HIV-1 replication. Tamika’s recent publication (Journal of Virology (2014): JVI-00802.) showed that there is a prevalence of p24 and Nef specificity among CD8+ T cells capable of soluble non-cytolytic HIV-1 inhibition. These p24 and Nef specific cells exhibit an up-regulation of multiple effector molecules that can block HIV-1 entry. Results indicate that mRNA stability, in addition to transcription, is key in regulating the expression of anti-HIV-1 effector molecules in antigen-specific memory CD8+ T cells and indicates that antigen-specificity may dictate mechanism of genetic regulation employed by CD8+ T cells.


While at Duke, Tamika engaged in many activities away from the bench including involvement in the Duke University Bouchet Society (a student-led organization which works to strengthen the efforts of underrepresented minority graduate students and promote diversity and inclusion in the sciences) as well as BOOST, a mentoring program for local 6th-8th graders. After completing her Ph.D. in December 2014, Tamika joined the laboratory of Dr. Ellen Kersh at the National Center for Preparedness, Detection, and Control of Infectious Diseases (NCPDCID) in Atlanta, Georgia as a ASM/CDC Resident Postdoctoral Fellow. For her postdoctoral fellowship, Tamika is studying the interplay of contraception use and HIV-1 acquisition.