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Valerie Wojna
Title Professor
Faculty Rank Professor
Degree M.D.
Institution University of Puerto Rico
Department Neurology Division
Clusters HIV/AIDS
Neurological Disorders and Mental Health
Obesity and Metabolic Syndromes
UPR-Medical Sciences Campus
School of Medicine
P.O. Box 365067
City San Juan
State PR
Postal Code 00936-5067
Telephone (787) 758-2525 ext 2819
Fax (787) 777-0078
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Awards and Honors icon

2004 NINDS Pathophysiology of HIV Dementia
2009 Neurology Division, UPR Chairperson, Research Committee
2011 Alpha Omega Alpha
2011 R21 award from NIMH Soluble Insulin Receptor Dysfunction Correlates with HAND in HIV+ Women on CART
2012 Puerto Rico Health Sciences Journal, UPR Editor-in-Chief
2012 University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus Editor-in-Chief, Puerto Rico Health Sciences Journal
2014 UPR Academic Senate
2014 Puerto Rico Clinical and Translational Research Consortium, UPR Core Leader, Pilot Projects Program
2015 RTRN Member Steering Committee
2016 R01 award from NINDS Exosome-mediated soluble insulin receptor secretion correlates with HAND
2016 AIDS Clinical Trial Group Member, Neurology Collaborative Group
2017 Journal NeuroVirology Associate Editor
2017 Molecular Sciences Research Center, UPR Member, Board of Directors

Narrative icon

  I have been fortunate to work with my patients as a neurologist and as a clinical researcher. My clinical experience and personal commitment to help ameliorate health disparities, has led to me to the study of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). I have been the PI of the Hispanic/Latino Longitudinal NeuroAIDS women cohort for the evaluation of HAND as part of the NeuroAIDS Specialized Neuroscience Research Program (SNRP). My areas of research experience address the impact of sex hormones, insulin resistance, oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and biomarkers on cognitive performance among HIV positive cisgender women. Recent scientific literature has evidenced that the chronic infection and increase survival of HIV-seropositive patients is associated with increase co-morbidities such as stroke, metabolic syndrome, and cancer. Since 2011 we have been studying the effect of insulin resistance and neurocognitive performance in patients with HIV infection. Since than we have obtained a R21 (R21MH095524) and a R01 (R01NS099036) to study further the mechanisms involved in the secretion of the insulin receptor and its effect on cellular insulin resistance and neurocognitive impairment. Our preliminary data shows that HIV tat alters the cellular splicing factors facilitating the release of the insulin receptor extracellularly. Since this receptor is functional (binds to insulin) it facilitates de development of cellular insulin resistance as determined by altered IRS-1 phosphorylation. We believe that the secretion of the soluble insulin receptor and its effects precipitates a continuous cellular (and neuronal) insulin resistance that eventually will synergize with other HIV pathological mechanisms such as chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and neurotoxic effects of virotoxins with residual neuronal injury and cognitive impairment. At present I am enrolled in the NINDS R25 Clinical Trials Methodology Course where will like to develop a clinical trial with approved medications that affects splicing factors (i.e. resveratrol) and improves insulin resistance (i.e. intranasal insulin). Other areas of interest include neurodegenerative disorders, multiple sclerosis, and HIV-associated sleep disorders.

Mentorship icon

I have an interest in mentoring young investigators in the field of NeuroHIV and neurodegenerative disorders. For this purpose I have completed a mentoring training at the University of San Francisco, CFAR - "Mentoring the mentors in HIV" and I am a faculty member at the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN).

Contact Information for Mentoring:
  • RTRN
  • NRMN

Programs, Membership, and Biomedical Research icon

Mentoring Mentor

Publications icon

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1. Ramírez-Marrero FA, Pérez-Frontera S, Amalbert-Birriel MA, Matos M, Santana-Bagur J, Frontera WR, Wojna V. Effects of low volume high intensity interval training in Hispanic HIV+ Women: a non-randomized study. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2020 Mar 20.
2. Gerena Y, Menéndez-Delmestre R, Delgado-Nieves A, Vélez J, Méndez-Álvarez J, Sierra-Pagan JE, Skolasky RL, Henderson L, Nath A, Wojna V. Release of Soluble Insulin Receptor From Neurons by Cerebrospinal Fluid From Patients With Neurocognitive Dysfunction and HIV Infection. Front Neurol. 2019; 10:285.
3. Wojna V. ZIKA VIRUS - The Puerto Rican Experience. P R Health Sci J. 2018 12; 37(Spec Issue):S3-S4.
4. Oda R, Shiramizu B, Agsalda-Garcia M, Kettlewell J, Wojna V. In Vitro Blood-Brain Barrier Modeling adapted for Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Transmigration from HIV-Positive Patients for Clinical Research on Therapeutic Drug Intervention. P R Health Sci J. 2018 09; 37(3):155-159.
5. Cantres-Rosario YM, Acevedo-Mariani FM, Pérez-Laspiur J, Haskins WE, Plaud M, Cantres-Rosario YM, Skolasky R, Méndez-Bermúdez I, Wojna V, Meléndez LM. Microwave & magnetic proteomics of macrophages from patients with HIV-associated cognitive impairment. PLoS One. 2017; 12(7):e0181779.
6. Jimenez-Torres GJ, Wojna V, Rosario E, Hechevarría R, Alemán-Batista AM, Matos MR, Madan A, Skolasky RL, Acevedo SF. Assessing health-related resiliency in HIV+ Latin women: Preliminary psychometric findings. PLoS One. 2017; 12(7):e0181253.
7. Salinas JL, Major CG, Pastula DM, Dirlikov E, Styczynski A, Luciano CA, Wojna V, Sharp TM, Sejvar JJ, Rivera-Garcia B. Incidence and clinical characteristics of Guillain-Barré syndrome before the introduction of Zika virus in Puerto Rico. J Neurol Sci. 2017 Jun 15; 377:102-106.
8. Joseph J, Cinque P, Colosi D, Dravid A, Ene L, Fox H, Gabuzda D, Gisslen M, Beth Joseph S, Letendre S, Mukerji SS, Nath A, Perez-Valero I, Persaud D, Price RW, Rao VR, Sacktor N, Swanstrom R, Winston A, Wojna V, Wright E, Spudich S. Highlights of the Global HIV-1 CSF Escape Consortium Meeting, 9 June 2016, Bethesda, MD, USA. J Virus Erad. 2016 Oct 05; 2(4):243-250.
9. Delgado-Vélez M, Báez-Pagán CA, Gerena Y, Quesada O, Santiago-Pérez LI, Capó-Vélez CM, Wojna V, Meléndez L, León-Rivera R, Silva W, Lasalde-Dominicci JA. The a7-nicotinic receptor is upregulated in immune cells from HIV-seropositive women: consequences to the cholinergic anti-inflammatory response. Clin Transl Immunology. 2015 Dec; 4(12):e53.
10. Wojna V. The PRHSJ goes Green: What does it Mean? P R Health Sci J. 2015 Dec; 34(4):181.
11. Colon K, Perez-Laspiur J, Quiles R, Rodriguez Y, Wojna V, Shaffer SA, Leszyk J, Skolasky RL, Melendez LM. Macrophage secretome from women with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. Proteomics Clin Appl. 2016 Feb; 10(2):136-43.
12. Colón K, Vázquez-Santiago F, Rivera-Amill V, Delgado G, Massey SE, Wojna V, Noel RJ, Meléndez LM. HIV gp120 sequence variability associated with HAND in Hispanic Women. J Virol Antivir Res. 2015; 4(3).
13. Gerena Y, Menéndez-Delmestre R, Skolasky RL, Hechavarria RM, Pérez S, Hilera C, González C, Nath A, Wojna V. Soluble insulin receptor as a source of insulin resistance and cognitive impairment in HIV-seropositive women. J Neurovirol. 2015 Apr; 21(2):113-9.
14. Vázquez-Santiago F, García Y, Rivera-Román I, Noel RJ, Wojna V, Meléndez LM, Rivera-Amill V. Longitudinal Analysis of Cerebrospinal Fluid and Plasma HIV-1 Envelope Sequences Isolated From a Single Donor with HIV Asymptomatic Neurocognitive Impairment. J Virol Antivir Res. 2015; 4(1).
15. Victorson D, Cavazos JE, Holmes GL, Reder AT, Wojna V, Nowinski C, Miller D, Buono S, Mueller A, Moy C, Cella D. Validity of the Neurology Quality-of-Life (Neuro-QoL) measurement system in adult epilepsy. Epilepsy Behav. 2014 Feb; 31:77-84.
16. Agsalda-Garcia M, Shiramizu B, Melendez L, Plaud M, Liang CY, Wojna V. Different levels of HIV DNA copy numbers in cerebrospinal fluid cellular subsets. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2013 Nov; 24(4 Suppl):8-16.
17. Bandaru VV, Mielke MM, Sacktor N, McArthur JC, Grant I, Letendre S, Chang L, Wojna V, Pardo C, Calabresi P, Munsaka S, Haughey NJ. A lipid storage-like disorder contributes to cognitive decline in HIV-infected subjects. Neurology. 2013 Oct 22; 81(17):1492-9.
18. Morales D, Hechavarria R, Wojna V, Acevedo SF. YWHAE/14-3-3e: a potential novel genetic risk factor and CSF biomarker for HIV neurocognitive impairment. J Neurovirol. 2013 Oct; 19(5):471-8.
19. Cantres-Rosario Y, Plaud-Valentín M, Gerena Y, Skolasky RL, Wojna V, Meléndez LM. Cathepsin B and cystatin B in HIV-seropositive women are associated with infection and HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorders. AIDS. 2013 Jan 28; 27(3):347-56.
20. Assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder: a consensus report of the mind exchange program. Clin Infect Dis. 2013 Apr; 56(7):1004-17.
21. Morales D, Acevedo SF, Skolasky RL, Hechavarria R, Santiago S, De La Torre T, Maldonado E, Wojna V. Translational spatial task and its relationship to HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders and apolipoprotein E in HIV-seropositive women. J Neurovirol. 2012 Dec; 18(6):488-502.
22. Gerena Y, Skolasky RL, Velez JM, Toro-Nieves D, Mayo R, Nath A, Wojna V. Soluble and cell-associated insulin receptor dysfunction correlates with severity of HAND in HIV-infected women. PLoS One. 2012; 7(5):e37358.
23. Cella D, Lai JS, Nowinski CJ, Victorson D, Peterman A, Miller D, Bethoux F, Heinemann A, Rubin S, Cavazos JE, Reder AT, Sufit R, Simuni T, Holmes GL, Siderowf A, Wojna V, Bode R, McKinney N, Podrabsky T, Wortman K, Choi S, Gershon R, Rothrock N, Moy C. Neuro-QOL: brief measures of health-related quality of life for clinical research in neurology. Neurology. 2012 Jun 05; 78(23):1860-7.
24. Kraft-Terry S, Gerena Y, Wojna V, Plaud-Valentin M, Rodriguez Y, Ciborowski P, Mayo R, Skolasky R, Gendelman HE, Meléndez LM. Proteomic analyses of monocytes obtained from Hispanic women with HIV-associated dementia show depressed antioxidants. Proteomics Clin Appl. 2010 Sep; 4(8-9):706-14.
25. Oquendo-Jiménez I, Mena R, Antoun MD, Wojna V. Linguistic adaptation of the clinical dementia rating scale for a Spanish-speaking population: a focus group approach. P R Health Sci J. 2010 Jun; 29(2):102-8.
26. Brown A, Shiramizu B, Nath A, Wojna V. Translational research in NeuroAIDS: a neuroimmune pharmacology-related course. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2011 Mar; 6(1):80-8.
27. Hidalgo MB, Rodríguez E, Wojna V. Atypical presentation of basilar artery thrombosis due to hypercoagulable state and incidental patent foramen ovale: a case report. Bol Asoc Med P R. 2010 Apr-Jun; 102(2):54-7.
28. Toro-Nieves DM, Rodriguez Y, Plaud M, Ciborowski P, Duan F, Pérez Laspiur J, Wojna V, Meléndez LM. Proteomic analyses of monocyte-derived macrophages infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 primary isolates from Hispanic women with and without cognitive impairment. J Neurovirol. 2009 Jan; 15(1):36-50.
29. Velázquez I, Plaud M, Wojna V, Skolasky R, Laspiur JP, Meléndez LM. Antioxidant enzyme dysfunction in monocytes and CSF of Hispanic women with HIV-associated cognitive impairment. J Neuroimmunol. 2009 Jan 03; 206(1-2):106-11.
30. Wojna V, Robles L, Skolasky RL, Mayo R, Selnes O, de la Torre T, Maldonado E, Nath A, Meléndez LM, Lasalde-Dominicci J. Associations of cigarette smoking with viral immune and cognitive function in human immunodeficiency virus-seropositive women. J Neurovirol. 2007 Dec; 13(6):561-8.
31. Wojna V, Skolasky RL, McArthur JC, Maldonado E, Hechavarria R, Mayo R, Selnes O, Ginebra T, de la Torre T, Garcia H, Kraiselburd E, Melendez-Guerrero LM, Zorrilla CD, Nath A. Spanish validation of the HIV dementia scale in women. AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2007 Dec; 21(12):930-41.
32. Laspiur JP, Anderson ER, Ciborowski P, Wojna V, Rozek W, Duan F, Mayo R, Rodríguez E, Plaud-Valentín M, Rodríguez-Orengo J, Gendelman HE, Meléndez LM. CSF proteomic fingerprints for HIV-associated cognitive impairment. J Neuroimmunol. 2007 Dec; 192(1-2):157-70.
33. Rozek W, Ricardo-Dukelow M, Holloway S, Gendelman HE, Wojna V, Melendez LM, Ciborowski P. Cerebrospinal fluid proteomic profiling of HIV-1-infected patients with cognitive impairment. J Proteome Res. 2007 Nov; 6(11):4189-99.
34. Antinori A, Arendt G, Becker JT, Brew BJ, Byrd DA, Cherner M, Clifford DB, Cinque P, Epstein LG, Goodkin K, Gisslen M, Grant I, Heaton RK, Joseph J, Marder K, Marra CM, McArthur JC, Nunn M, Price RW, Pulliam L, Robertson KR, Sacktor N, Valcour V, Wojna VE. Updated research nosology for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. Neurology. 2007 Oct 30; 69(18):1789-99.
35. Nieves DM, Plaud M, Wojna V, Skolasky R, Meléndez LM. Characterization of peripheral blood human immunodeficiency virus isolates from Hispanic women with cognitive impairment. J Neurovirol. 2007 Aug; 13(4):315-27.
36. Wojna V, Nath A. Challenges to the diagnosis and management of HIV dementia. AIDS Read. 2006 Nov; 16(11):615-6, 621-4, 626, 629-32.
37. Wojna V, Skolasky RL, Hechavarría R, Mayo R, Selnes O, McArthur JC, Meléndez LM, Maldonado E, Zorrilla CD, García H, Kraiselburd E, Nath A. Prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus-associated cognitive impairment in a group of Hispanic women at risk for neurological impairment. J Neurovirol. 2006 Oct; 12(5):356-64.
38. Wojna V, Carlson KA, Luo X, Mayo R, Meléndez LM, Kraiselburd E, Gendelman HE. Proteomic fingerprinting of human immunodeficiency virus type 1-associated dementia from patient monocyte-derived macrophages: A case study. J Neurovirol. 2004; 10 Suppl 1:74-81.
39. Turchan J, Sacktor N, Wojna V, Conant K, Nath A. Neuroprotective therapy for HIV dementia. Curr HIV Res. 2003 Oct; 1(4):373-83.
40. Luo X, Carlson KA, Wojna V, Mayo R, Biskup TM, Stoner J, Anderson J, Gendelman HE, Meléndez LM. Macrophage proteomic fingerprinting predicts HIV-1-associated cognitive impairment. Neurology. 2003 Jun 24; 60(12):1931-7.
41. Nath A, Hauser KF, Wojna V, Booze RM, Maragos W, Prendergast M, Cass W, Turchan JT. Molecular basis for interactions of HIV and drugs of abuse. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2002 Oct 01; 31 Suppl 2:S62-9.
42. Wojna V, Guerrero L, Guzmán J, Cotto M. Effect of flumazenil on electroencephalographic patterns induced by midazolam. P R Health Sci J. 2000 Dec; 19(4):353-6.

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