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Election Year: 2004
Primary Section: 44, Microbial Biology
Secondary Section: 43, Immunology and Inflammation
Membership Type: Member
Diane Griffin is University Distinguished Service Professor and Alfred and Jill Sommer Chair of the W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Griffin is a virologist recognized for her work on the pathogenesis of viral infections. She is known particularly for her studies on measles and alphavirus encephalomyelitis that have delineated the role of the immune response in virus clearance, vaccine-induced protection from infection, tissue damage and immune suppression.
Dr. Griffin was born in Iowa City, Iowa, in 1940 and grew up in Oklahoma City. She graduated from Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois with a degree in biology and from Stanford University School of Medicine in 1968 with a Ph.D. in immunology and M.D., followed by a residency in internal medicine. She was a postdoctoral fellow in virology and infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and joined the faculty in 1974. She has been president of the American Society for Virology and of the American Society for Microbiology and is a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine.
Diane Griffin's laboratory is interested in the pathogenesis of viral infections and has studied the determinants of outcome and the host responses to infection. They have examined disease caused by acute infection with two different types of RNA viruses: encephalomyelitis due to a mosquito-borne alphavirus and the rash disease measles. To understand viral encephalitis they have used a mouse model to determine how virus infects and damages neurons and how the host immune response controls virus replication without damaging cells. Noncytolytic clearance by antibody and T cells results in long-term persistence of viral RNA in the nervous system. Measles virus infection causes death primarily by increasing susceptibility to other infections. Recovery is accompanied by lifelong immunity to re-infection. Using a rhesus macaque model, they have shown that virus clearance continues for months after apparent recovery. Virus persistence probably leads to both immune suppression and development of long-term immunity to measles. Clearance is dependent on both the virus-specific cellular immune response and antibody.