Joel N. Blankson

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Joel N. Blankson is an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases.[1][2] Blankson is an expert on HIV infection, particularly HIV latency and long-term control of HIV infection.[2] He is a lead investigator in studies on these topics[3] and is frequently interviewed in the scientific and popular press. Blankson also practices internal and infectious diseases medicine in Lutherville, Maryland.[4]

Training and career[edit]

In 1995, Blankson received an MD he earned at the Cornell University Medical School, now known as Weil Cornell, in New York City, New York.[5] His PhD was awarded by Rockefeller University in 1996 as part of a joint MD-PhD program with Cornell and Memorial Sloan-Kettering.[6] At Rockefeller, Blankson conducted immunology research with Stephen S. Morse.[7][8]

Blankson completed residencies in infectious diseases and internal medicine at Johns Hopkins. He has practiced medicine in Delaware and Maryland.[5] He is currently an associate professor in the Johns Hopkins Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, and also collaborates closely with the Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology.[9]


After his PhD research on immunology and residencies at Johns Hopkins, Blankson investigated HIV at Johns Hopkins with Robert Siliciano. Their work together has included research on HIV pathogenesis,[10] immune reconstitution,[11] control of viremia,[12] and HIV viral reservoirs.[13] They also reviewed the concept of "structured therapeutic interruption."[14]

More recently, Blankson has led investigations of elite suppressors of HIV-1 infection. Elite suppressors are people who are infected with HIV-1 but naturally suppress the amount of virus in their blood to very low, almost undetectable levels without use of antiretroviral drugs. Only 1 HIV-positive person out of approximately 300 is in this category. Blankson and other investigators suggest the biological mechanisms of this rare phenomenon may hold the key to new treatments for HIV.[15][16] From 2007 to 2009, Blankson published about 20 scientific articles on elite suppressors,[17] and he has been interviewed extensively in the popular and scientific press.[3][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25]


  1. ^ Johns Hopkins Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases faculty members
  2. ^ a b Infectious Diseases Society of America IDSA guide to infectious diseases training programs.
  3. ^ a b "'Elite' HIV wife may hold secret to AIDS vaccine" Maggie Fox, Reuters, August 12, 2008.
  4. ^ HealthGrades report: Dr. Joel N. Blankson, MD
  5. ^ a b Physician Information - Joel Blankson, MD
  6. ^ Rockefeller University News, June 16, 1996
  7. ^ Blankson, J.; Loh, D.; Morse, S. (1995). "Superantigens and conventional antigens induce different responses in alpha beta T-cell receptor transgenic mice". Immunology. 85 (1): 57–62. PMC 1384024Freely accessible. PMID 7635522. 
  8. ^ Blankson, J.; Morse, S. (1994). "The CD28/B7 pathway costimulates the response of primary murine T cells to superantigens as well as to conventional antigens". Cellular immunology. 157 (1): 306–312. PMID 7518754. doi:10.1006/cimm.1994.1225. 
  9. ^ Mankowski JL, Queen SE, Fernandez CS, Tarwater PM, Karper JM, Adams RJ, Kent SJ. "Natural host genetic resistance to lentiviral CNS disease: a neuroprotective MHC class I allele in SIV-infected macaques". PLoS One. 3: e3603. PMC 2574413Freely accessible. PMID 18978944. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003603. 
  10. ^ Blankson, J.; Finzi, D.; Pierson, T.; Sabundayo, B.; Chadwick, K.; Margolick, J.; Quinn, T.; Siliciano, R. (2000). "Biphasic decay of latently infected CD4+ T cells in acute human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection". The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 182 (6): 1636–1642. PMID 11069234. doi:10.1086/317615. 
  11. ^ Blankson, J.; Gallant, J.; Siliciano, R. (2001). "Proliferative responses to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) antigens in HIV-1-infected patients with immune reconstitution". The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 183 (4): 657–661. PMID 11170994. doi:10.1086/318545. 
  12. ^ Blankson, J. N.; Siliciano, R. F. (2001). "MHC class II genotype and the control of viremia in HIV-1–infected individuals on highly active antiretroviral therapy". Journal of Clinical Investigation. 107 (5): 549–51. PMC 199437Freely accessible. PMID 11238554. doi:10.1172/JCI12430. 
  13. ^ Blankson, J. N.; Persaud, D.; Siliciano, R. F. (2002). "The Challenge of Viral Reservoirs in Hiv-1 Infection". Annual Review of Medicine. 53: 557–593. PMID 11818490. doi:10.1146/ 
  14. ^ Blankson, J. N.; Siliciano, R. F. (2001). "Structured therapeutic interruptions: a review". The Hopkins HIV report : a bimonthly newsletter for healthcare providers / Johns Hopkins University AIDS Service. 13 (1): 1, 8–9, 13. PMID 12184252. 
  15. ^ O’connell, K. A.; Bailey, J. R.; Blankson, J. N. (2009). "Elucidating the elite: mechanisms of control in HIV-1 infection". Trends in Pharmacological Sciences. 30 (12): 631–637. PMID 19837464. doi:10.1016/ 
  16. ^ Blankson, J. N. (2009). "Effector mechanisms in HIV-1 infected elite controllers: Highly active immune responses?". Antiviral Research. 85 (1): 295–302. PMC 2814919Freely accessible. PMID 19733595. doi:10.1016/j.antiviral.2009.08.007. 
  17. ^ PubMed search for Blankson JN
  18. ^ "Why Some Infected With HIV Remain Symptom Free Without Antiretroviral Drugs" Science Daily, August 13, 2008.
  19. ^ "Rare Case Suggests Immune Control of HIV Possible" Michael Smith, MedPage Today, August 12, 2008.
  20. ^ "News in brief - Sept. 1, 2008" "Study examines HIV resistance," American Medical News, September 1, 2008.
  21. ^ Aerzte Zeitung (Doctors' News) (in German) "Zehn Jahre HIV infiziert - trotzdem fast kerngesund" ("Ten years with HIV - yet almost completely healthy"), August 15, 2008.
  22. ^ (in Portuguese) "Algumas pessoas têm defesa natural contra aids, revela estudo," Globo, August 14, 2008.
  23. ^ WProst24 (in Polish) "Istnieją ludzie odporni na HIV," August 14, 2008.
  24. ^ (in Spanish) "Algunas personas poseen defensa natural contra Sida" ("Some people have natural defenses against AIDS"), Vanguardia (Colombia), August 16, 2008.
  25. ^ (in Italian) "Forse c'è una speranza per debellare l'Aids. I medici "studiano" il caso di una donna affetta da 10 anni senza sintomi" ("Possible hope in the fight against AIDS. Doctors study the case of a woman infected for ten years without symptoms"), Italia Informazioni, August 13, 2008.