Ryan Johnson

 Ryan Johnson
Mentor: Dr. Peggy Borum
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
"I first got involved in research as a bright eyed freshmen. I was eager to get involved in research early in my college career, as one of the reasons that I selected UF is that it is one of the top research universities in the nation. I saw research as a way to expand my horizons beyond what I ciould learn in a classroom. Research is the quest for the novel, for new knowledge. Researchers are boldly going where no one has gone before. I desired to be on the cutting edge of knowledge. Research was also a way that I could contribute something more significant to the university than my tuition."


Microbiology and Cell Science; Food Science and Human Nutrition



Research Interests

  • HIV Exposure
  • Infant Nutrition
  • Early Growth

Academic Awards

  • UF University Scholars Program
  • National Merit Scholar


  • InvestiGators Research Honors Society
  • UF Sailing Team
  • Outdoor Adventure and Recreation


  • St. Francis House
  • LARC Community Service Director
  • Volunteer Course Assistant

Hobbies and Interests

  • Medicine
  • Sailing
  • Aerial Dance
  • Running

Research Description

Growth and Dietary Intake of Infants Exposed to HIV in Utero
Human Immunodeficiency Virus and antiretroviral (ARV) medication exposure has potentially toxic side effects related to mitochondrial toxicity and growth abnormalities.1,2 There is controversy surrounding the developmental outcome of infants exposed to HIV and ARVs in utero with some studies having documented abnormal growth in HIV exposed infants3,4 while others have found no abnormalities5-7. None of these studies were specific to the Southeastern rural United States. I will examine the growth and nutrition of a population of HIV/ARV exposed infants receiving care at Shands Pediatric Immunology Clinic. It is the general assumption of the medical community that if the antiretroviral medications delivered to the mother during pregnancy and to the infant early in life prevent the transmission of the virus that there are no negative health effects. Our lab has an IRB approved study to examine up to 350 babies that have received care at Shands for HIV exposure. I have been collecting data for this study and already have the skills that are necessarily to see it to completion. In order to determine whether growth is an issue with this population I will compare the growth measurements of this HIV exposed infant population to reference populations and definitions of abnormal growth published by the CDC and WHO. The dietary intakes of infants will likely have an impact on their growth. Excessive caloric intake resulting in a high prevalence of childhood obesity in the southeastern US is well documented8. I will compare the dietary intake of this HIV exposed infant population to dietary intake recommendations for reference populations at the same age and gender. None of the published studies of growth outcomes of HIV/ARV exposed infants has simultaneously examined the diet of those infants, making this proposed study unique. Analysis of the infants’ diet will help determine if any growth abnormalities uncovered are associated with the dietary intake or if there are dietary factors that are protective against growth abnormalities.The ultimate goal of this study is to develop improved therapy guidelines for all infants treated for exposure to HIV at Shands and at other clinics around the nation.