Aisha L. Walker, PhD, MPH

  • Assistant Professor of Medicine

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Diversity Advisory Council

Dr. Walker is a Research Assistant Professor in the Vascular Medicine Institute at University of Pittsburgh.  She received her PhD in Cell Biology and Anatomy from Georgia Regents University where she studied the role of bone marrow derived stem cells in repairing the brain following stroke. Dr. Walker went on to complete her postdoctoral training at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She was awarded the St Jude Sickle Cell Disease Center Diggs fellowship to conduct studies investigating protein transporters and miRNAs related to the pharmacology of the drug hydroxyurea. Dr. Walker is currently a Sickle Cell Scholar at Pitt. Her basic and translational research projects continue to investigate mechanisms related to pharmacologic therapies for sickle cell disease.

Research Interests

Dr. Walker’s primary research goal is to identify novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of sickle cell disease (SCD). Her current projects are focused on identifying cellular and molecular modulators that mediate efficacy and toxicity of hydroxyurea, which is currently the only FDA approved drug for SCD. Dr. Walker’s work was the first to identify specific cell membrane transporters and microRNAs associated with the pharmacokinetics and clinical outcomes of hydroxyurea. Her current projects evaluate how the expression of the transporters and microRNAs modulate fetal hemoglobin induction and cytotoxicity of hydroxyurea in hematopoietic progenitor cells. Identifying these and other mechanisms that regulate action of hydroxyurea may aid in the development of new therapeutic regimens and treatment strategies for SCD.