Division of Infectious Diseases

Constance Benson, M.D.

Constance Benson, M.D.
Professor of Medicine
Program Director, Fellowship

AVRC
150 W. Washington St.
Mail Code 8208
San Diego. California 92103

Telephone: (619)543-8080
Fax: (619) 298-0177
Email: cbenson@ucsd.edu

Constance A. Benson, M.D. is a Professor of Medicine and Senior Attending Physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at University of California, San Diego. She is the Infectious Diseases Training Program Director; the Director of the UCSD Antiviral Research Unit (AVRC) and; the Principal Investigator (PI) and Director of the HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials Unit (ACTU). Dr. Benson received her M.D. degree from The Ohio State University College of Medicine in 1978, completed her residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Rush University Medical College in Chicago in 1986, after serving three years on active duty in the U.S. Navy as an internist. She was recruited to the faculty of Rush University in the Division of Infectious Diseases in 1986; to the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver in 1997, and to the Division of Infectious Diseases at UCSD in 2005.

Dr. Benson is an internationally-recognized researcher and clinician working in the field of HIV/AIDS since 1984. From 2003 to 2010, Dr. Benson served as the PI/Chair of the NIH/NIAID AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) Network, and chaired the ACTG Executive Committee. From 1995 to 2003 she served as the Vice Chair of the ACTG Network and the Chair of the ACTG Scientific Agenda Steering Committee. The ACTG Network is a multinational, multicenter, therapeutic clinical investigation network with research sites in 15 countries originally established in 1986. During her 15 years in the leadership of the network, and under her scientific and administrative direction, the ACTG expanded its HIV/AIDS therapeutic research activities to include not only US sites but also to develop and establish 22 international clinical research sites in countries most affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, including sites in South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, Haiti, Brazil, Peru, India, and Thailand to conduct scientifically rigorous randomized clinical trials and laboratory research in the field if HIV therapeutic interventions. In the context of these activities, she also oversaw the establishment, training and development of: 1) virology, immunology, and pharmacology laboratories in the US to develop and implement novel assays and conduct laboratory studies in support of the clinical trials conducted by the network; 2) pharmacogenomics research effort and a DNA specimen repository for use in HIV-related genomics research within the ACTG Network; 3) four international reference laboratories to conduct sophisticated and quality controlled viral genotypic resistance testing to support HIV/AIDS therapeutic trials at ACTG international sites, and; 4) site laboratories capable of conducting sophisticated diagnostic testing for tuberculosis (TB) to support ACTG Network trials related to TB. She led the expansion of the ACTG Network activities to include hepatitis B and C and tuberculosis as part of the network’s scientific agenda. Dr. Benson has also served as a member of the NIH Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council (OARAC) from 2000 to 2003 and as Chair of the OARAC from 2001 to 2003. She has served on numerous NIH ad hoc study sections, on the Scientific Program Committees for the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), and the International AIDS Society (IAS), and on the Board of Directors of the International Antiviral Society-USA, the CROI Foundation Board, and the Zimbabwe AIDS Treatment Assistant Project Board. She serves as a reviewer for 12 major medical journals, and lectures frequently both nationally and internationally on topics within her areas of research and clinical expertise. Dr. Benson is a member of the International AIDS Society, the IDSA, the HIV Medicine Association of the IDSA, the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, and the American College of Physicians.

Currently, as the PI of the UCSD ACTU and Director of the UCSD Antiviral Research Center, she manages an extensive portfolio of clinical and translational research projects, grants, and contracts, and oversees the conduct of multiple national and international multicenter clinical trials in the fields of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, influenza, tuberculosis and other HIV-related opportunistic infections, malignancies, complications and other infectious diseases of global health impact. The Antiviral Research Center routinely conducts on average 40-50 active clinical trials in these areas of research at any given time. Her major areas of research interest include Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium avium complex diseases, other HIV-related opportunistic infections, new antiretroviral drug development, treatment of acute HIV-1 infection, and the treatment of HIV infection and its complications in resource-limited international settings. Most recently her research has focused on the treatment and prevention of HIV-associated tuberculosis, the development of rapid, point-of-care diagnostic assays for resource-limited settings, and new antiretroviral drug development. Dr. Benson also serves as the UCSD co-PI of the University of Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) grant, sponsored by the NIH and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and awarded to Dr. Emilia Noormahomed of the UEM Faculty of Medicine in Maputo, Mozambique, where Dr. Benson and Dr. Robert Schooley have worked together to forge a very successful UEM-UCSD clinical and research education and training partnership. Dr. Benson currently co-directs the research training component of the MEPI program.

Her contributions to the field of HIV/AIDS are numerous. To date, she has published more than 220 original manuscripts, invited reviews, and book chapters. She maintains active clinical duties as a subspecialist in Infectious Diseases and HIV care at the UCSD Medical Center in San Diego.

Recent Publications