Cassie Grimsley Ackerley, MD

Assistant Professor

Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases


BIRCWH Scholar: 2021     

Cassie Grimsley Ackerley MD, MSc, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics in the Divisions of Infectious Diseases and Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Grimsley Ackerley’s research focuses on understanding the biological mechanisms that influence the immune response to mucosal HIV transmission, particularly among sexual and gender minority populations, including transgender and gender diverse people utilizing gender affirming hormone therapy. Her K12 research project will utilize single cell transcriptomics, paired with an ex vivo HIV transmission model, to comprehensively characterize the effects of gender-affirming hormone therapy on immune cell responses and HIV susceptibility in the rectum, a critical site of vulnerability to HIV infection. Her long-term objective is to develop a successful translational mucosal immunology program that specializes in the use of genomics applications, the HIV explant challenge model, and organoid technology to better understand early mucosal transmission events, as this has important implications in the optimization of biomedical HIV prevention interventions for populations at high risk of acquiring HIV. Dr. Grimsley Ackerley is also a co-investigator for numerous vaccine clinical trials and ongoing community-based research efforts at the Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Center.  Dr. Colleen Kelley will serve as her lead mentor.