Sandra G. Williams earned her M.D./Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis. Her biochemistry thesis focused on understanding the evolution and molecular basis of RNA-protein interactions in a family of proteins found in the spliceosome. Recently, Dr. Williams completed her residency training in internal medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital, and her rheumatology fellowship at the NIAMS. She is broadly interested in understanding how RNA surveillance pathways link to inflammatory responses and how this could contribute to rheumatic diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). While RNA-protein complexes (RNPs) are common lupus autoantigens, it is not fully understood how endogenous RNAs can activate inflammatory pathways in SLE.
As a NIAMS Metzger Scholar in Translational Research, Dr. Williams works in Dr. Sandra Wolin’s NCI lab. Dr. Wolin is an RNA biologist with many years of experience studying RNA surveillance. Working in the lab, she has found that knocking out critical RNA surveillance pathways leads to an upregulated interferon response in cultured cells. Dr. Williams investigates the molecular basis for this phenomenon. She is also interested in understanding the role of extracellular vesicles in RNA quality control and whether disruption of RNA packaging into these vesicles could also lead to an upregulated interferon response which has implications for diseases like SLE.