Thomas Quinn, MD, Named 2012 Graduate School Distinguished Alumnus and Commencement Speaker

Author: Mary Hendriksen

Thomas Quinn, MD, 2012 Graduate School Distinguished Alumnus and Commencement speaker

Thomas Quinn, MD (B.S. Notre Dame 1969, MSc Notre Dame 1970), professor and director, Johns Hopkins’ Center for Global Health, has been named the Graduate School’s 2012 Distinguished Alumnus and Commencement speaker for 2012.

Dr. Quinn is renowned in the area of global health. An elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the founding director of the Johns Hopkins’ Center for Global Health, he is the author of nearly 700 publications in his area of expertise: the epidemiology, pathogenesis, and clinical features of HIV/AIDS. More than 60 million people around the world are estimated to have been infected with HIV/AIDS since the pandemic began in the 1980s, and over 30 million people have died as a result of this devastating disease. AIDS continues to be the leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the fourth leading cause of death globally.

Dr. Quinn has been a key player in learning how HIV/AIDS spread and who is at risk. He was one of the first researchers to investigate what was a new and mysterious disease in the 1980s. Using viral sequencing, he mapped the molecular evolution of the HIV epidemic, linking virologic changes to the spread of HIV and demonstrating the inherent pathogenesis of various HIV subtypes. He began his investigations in Haiti, then continued them in Africa, Asia, and South America, continually producing much-needed information on how AIDS spreads among different peoples—working in 26 countries in all.

In addition to studying the spread of HIV/AIDS, Dr. Quinn has been committed to the implementation of clinical care programs for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in developing countries and was a co-founder of the Academic Alliance for AIDS Care and Prevention in Africa. He was one of the first researchers to demonstrate that non-invasive screening for STDs by use of molecular diagnostic assays could extend public health efforts to control STDs to non-clinic settings. This innovative approach, when coupled with his findings on the role of STDs as co-factors in enhancing HIV transmission, has led to one of the current basic tenets of the global AIDS control program. Quinn and his team also demonstrated the key linkage in the viral dynamics of HIV with viral transmission from mothers to infants and between sexual partners. This landmark discovery led to the use of antiretroviral drugs to reduce viral levels in infected individuals which resulted in increased survival but also decreased transmission. These studies eventually led to the recognition of treatment as one of the most important biomedical interventions to prevent spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide

The critical importance of Dr. Quinn’s work has been recognized worldwide. He is the recipient of more than twenty major awards, including the Thomas Parran Award from the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association (2011), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Special Act or Service Award for Coordinating International Research Activities (2007), the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care Heroes in Medicine Award (2000), the United States Public Health Service Distinguished Service Award (1999), the ASTDA Lifetime Achievement Award (1999), Best Doctors in America, Infectious Diseases, HIV and STDs (1998-1999), National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Special Recognition Award (1994), and the United States Public Health Service Outstanding Service Award, NIAID (1988).

In addition to his role as the founding director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health, Dr. Quinn maintains appointments with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health Departments of Epidemiology, International Health, and Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, as well as appointments in the Johns Hopkins University’s Schools of Medicine and Nursing. He also serves as a senior investigator and head of the section on International HIV/STD Research, and associate director for International Research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). In the past, he has served as advisor/consultant on HIV and STDs to the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Quinn will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award at the Graduate School’s Awards Dinner on Friday, May 18. He will deliver the Commencement address at the Graduate School’s Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 19, 10 a.m., the Compton Family Ice Arena, when the University will honor its doctoral and master’s degree recipients.