Cristian L. Achim, M.D., Ph.D. 



Contact Information

Office: Room 2066 BSB, School of Medicine
T: (858) 822-1879


Dr. Achim received his medical degree followed by clinical residency (general medicine and infectious diseases) and research training (neurovirology) in Bucharest, Romania. At UCSD, Dr. Achim completed a postdoctoral fellowship in NeuroAIDS and received a PhD in Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Upon completion of his training at UCSD, Dr. Achim was recruited for a faculty position at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine where he reached the level of Associate Professor of Pathology and Neurology with tenure. At Pitt, in addition to continuing the work in NeuroAIDS, the research interests of Dr. Achim included experimental models of neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease and therapeutic approaches using neuroprogenitor cell transplantation. Upon his return to UCSD, Dr. Achim’s experimental neuropathology laboratory has focused on the molecular mechanisms of disease in HIV associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). Areas of interest in these studies are: brain macrophages, neuroinflammation, chronic neuronal stress, axonal degeneration, abnormal protein aggregation, and neurotrophin and brain immunophilin response.

Research Interests

In conjunction with the HNRC International Core, Dr. Achim is collaborating with AIDS clinicians in Romania studying the long term effects of HIV on the developing brain in a cohort of young adults surviving with the infection since the first years of life. More recently, in collaboration with the Stein Institute for Research on Aging (SIRA), Dr. Achim’s research group has begun studying the neurobiology of successful aging with a focus on resilience and neurocognitive performance. The studies involve an experimental approach using a colony of aged mice combined with clinical translational studies in a large cohort of human subjects assessed for indicators of successful aging. The predictors and indicators of successful neurocognitive aging include host genomics, microRNA profiling, and biomarker studies compared to in situ evidence of preserved neuroglial homeostasis as assessed by detailed neuropathologic assessment. Through the Interdisciplinary Research Fellowship in NeuroAIDS (IRFN) and the Stein Translational Research Program, Dr. Achim is involved in training and mentoring early career investigators. Also, the HNRC Developmental Core and the TMARC Neuroscience Core Pilot grant programs directed by Dr. Achim offer opportunities for young investigators to develop research projects relevant to mental health. Dr. Achim has mentored numerous trainees, including 14 clinical and basic science research fellows and over 40 students.


  • Sanders VJ, Pittman CA, White MG, Wan G, Wiley, CA, Achim CL. Chemokines and receptors in HIV encephalitis. 1998. AIDS, 12:1021-1026. PMID: 9662198
  • Soontornniyomkij V, Wang, G, Pittman CA, Wiley CA, Achim CL. Expression of BDNF protein in activated microglia of HIV-1 encephalitis. 1998. Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol, 24:453-460. PMID: 9888155
  • Dallasta LM, Pisarov LA, Esplen JE, Werley JV, Moses AV, Nelson JA, and Achim CL. Blood brain barrier tight junction disruption in HIVE. 1999. Am J Pathol, 155:1915-1927. PMID: 10595922
  • Achim CL, Masliah E, Schindelar J, Avramut M. Immunophilin expression in the HIV infected brain. 2004. J Neuroimmunol, 157:126-132. PMID: 15579289
  • Green DA, Masliah E, Vinters HV, Beizai P, Moore DJ, Achim CL. Brain deposition of beta-amyloid is a common pathologic feature in HIV positive patients. 2005. AIDS, 19:407-411. PMID: 15750394
  • Tatro ET, Everall IP, Masliah E, Hult BJ, Lucero G, Chana G, Soontornniyomkij V, and Achim CL. Differential expression of immunophilins FKBP51 and FKBP52 in the frontal cortex of HIV-infected patients with major depressive disorder. 2009. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol, 4:218-226. PMC2929573
  • Soontornniyomkij V, Risbrough VB, Young JW, Wallace CK, Soontornniyomkij B, Jeste DV, Achim CL. Short-term recognition memory impairment is associated with decreased expression of FK506 binding protein 51 in the aged mouse brain. 2010. Age, 32:309-322. PMC2926850
  • Soontornniyomkij V, Everall I, Moore DJ, Gouaux B, Tatro ET, Gospodarev V, Masliah E, Yin N, Vinters HV, Achim CL. Increased cortical expression of FK506 binding protein-51 in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. 2012. J Neurovirol, 18:313-322
  • Soontornniyomkij V, Moore DJ, Gouaux B, Soontornniyomkij B, Tatro ET, Umlauf A, Masliah E, Levine AJ, Singer EJ, Vinters HV, Gelman BB, Morgello S, Cherner M, Grant I, Achim CL. Cerebral -amyloid deposition predicts HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders in APOE 4 carriers. AIDS 2012;26:2327-2335. DOI:10.1097/QAD.0b013e32835a117c. PMID: 23018443
  • 10. Tatro ET, Hefler S, Shumaker-Armstrong S, Soontornniyomkij B,Yang M, Yermanos A, Wren N, Moore DJ, and Achim CL. Modulation of BK Channel by MicroRNA-9 in Neurons After Exposure to HIV and Methamphetamine. 2013. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology. In press.

Selected Book Chapters

  • Achim CL and Wiley CA: AIDS dementia complex and other conventional virus related dementia. 1998. Neuropathology of Dementing Disorders. Editor: William R. Markesbery; Published by Edward Arnold.
  • Kondziolka D, Tyler-Kabara E, and Achim CL. Neural Transplantation. Encyclopedia of the Human Brain. 2002. Academic Press. Vol.1: 1-18.
  • Soontornniyomkij V, Achim CL. HIV-1-associated neurocognitive impairment and aging. 2011. In: The Neurology of AIDS, 3rd ed. Oxford University Press.