Ramona Johnson '22

Ramona Johnson


Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Beckman Scholars Program Project Title: “Characterization of the Microbial and Metabolite Effects on Epithelial Barrier Function in the Methadone Using Population”

Mentor: Alan Levine, Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at the School of Medicine

Beckman Scholars Program Project Details

Elevator Speech

In recent years the United States has been experiencing a serious opioid epidemic, which involves an increased prevalence of opioid addiction and opioid-related deaths. A major side effect of opioid use is gastrointestinal distress, known as opioid-induced bowel dysfunction. Our study focused on understanding the influence of methadone maintenance treatment on the composition of the gut microbiota and metabolite profile, as well as its effect on gut barrier function. This work will help us to better understand and treat opioid induced bowel dysfunction.


"During my time in the Beckman Scholars Program, I have been able to design and execute my own independent experiments, which has been critical to my growth as a researcher. Navigating setbacks and dealing with confusing results has been an important part of that process. The feedback and guidance I have received from my PI and my graduate student mentor have also been invaluable to my learning. Overall, I have really enjoyed my experience in the Beckman Scholars Program." 


  • Ramona Johnson, Angélica Cruz-Lebrón, Claire Mazahery, Zach Troyer, Samira Joussef-Piña, Miguel E. Quiñones-Mateu, Christopher M Strauch, Stanley L. Hazen, Alan D. Levine. “Dysbiosis during methadone use impacts gut barrier function.” Arnold & Mabel Beckman Foundation, Irvine, CA, August 2021.
  • Ramona Johnson, Angélica Cruz-Lebrón, Lane Grey, David Ye, Alan Levine. “Regional Influences on the Gut Microbiome In Crohn’s Disease.” Oral Presentation, CWRU Intersections: SOURCE Symposium and Poster Session, Cleveland, OH, May 2021.


  • Angélica Cruz-Lebrón, Ramona Johnson, Claire Mazahery, Zach Troyer, Samira Joussef-Piña, Miguel E. Quiñones-Mateu, Christopher M Strauch, Stanley L. Hazen & Alan D. Levine (2021) “Chronic opioid use modulates human enteric microbiota and intestinal barrier integrity,” Gut Microbes, 13:1, DOI: 10.1080/19490976.2021.1946368

Honors and Awards

  • Phi Beta Kappa Award (2020)
  • Dean’s High Honors List (6 semesters, Fall 2018 - Spring 2021)