Faculty: Joseph A. Bellanti

Dr. Bellanti is Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology and Immunology (Emeritus)

  • M.D., University of Buffalo, Buffalo, 1958
  • At Georgetown Since: 1963
  • Current lab has capacity for both new Master, PhD students and Post-Doctoral Fellows
  • Contact: (202) 687-8227 (301) 938-2940; Email: bellantj@georgetown.edu

My laboratory is investigating the development and clinical application of interferon gamma release assays (IGRAs) including both the QuantiFERON-TB Gold test (QFT-G) and the more recently developed T-SPOT®.TB test. These recently developed laboratory-based cellular assays are the most currently used aids in the diagnosis of M. tuberculosis infection and disease that measures the in vitro release of interferon-gamma from purified suspensions of lymphocytes stimulated with M tuberculosis specific peptides. They offer superiority over the historically traditional and less specific and less reliable tuberculin skin tests (TSTs).  Current efforts are focused on improving these assays to permit differentiation of latent tuberculosis infections (LTBIs) from active tuberculosis infections. These diagnostic challenges make investigating these assays particularly interesting and rewarding for both basic and clinical immunologists.

  • Riazi S, Zeligs B, Yeager H, Peters SM, Benavides GA, Di Mita O, Bellanti JA. Rapid diagnosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in children using interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs). Allergy Asthma Proc. 2012;33:217-26.
  • Frieri M, Settipane RA. What every physician should know about rapid diagnosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in children using interferon-gamma release assays. Allergy Asthma Proc. 2012;33:215-6.
  • Bellanti JA, Lin FY, Chu C, Shiloach J, Leppla SH, Benavides GA, Karpas A, Moayeri M, Guo C, Robbins JB, Schneerson R. Phase 1 study of a recombinant mutant protective antigen of Bacillus anthracis. Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2012;19:140-5.
  • Luccioli S, Malka-Rais J, Nsouli TM, Bellanti JA. Clinical reactivity to ingestion challenge with mixed mold extract may be enhanced in subjects sensitized to molds. Allergy Asthma Proc. 2009;30:433-42.
  • Bellanti JA, Settipane RA. Bacterial vaccines and the innate immune system: a journey of rediscovery for the allergist-immunologist and all health care providers. Allergy Asthma Proc. 2009;30 Suppl 1:S3-4.
  • Kelso JM, Li JT, Nicklas RA, Blessing-Moore J, Cox L, Lang DM, Oppenheimer J, Portnoy JM, Randolph C, Schuller DE, Spector SL, Tilles S, Wallace D, Ballas ZK, Baker JR, Bellanti JA, Ein D, Grammer LC; Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters; Joint Task Forcce on Practice Parameters for Allergy & Immunology. Adverse reactions to vaccines. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2009;103(4 Suppl 2):S1-14.
Medline publication list
Important Links

T-Spot ®.TB Test
Learn more about Dr. Bellanti's Laboratory that performs the T-SPOT®.TB test. 

Immunology IV: Clinical Applications in Health and Disease
Learn more about Dr. Bellanti’s recently published 4th edition of his textbook of immunology. 

About Dr. Bellanti

Dr. Bellanti is Director of the International Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Immunology at Georgetown University Medical Center and Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology-Immunology, (Emeritus) at Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC.

Dr. Joseph A. Bellanti, a native of Buffalo New York, received his M.D. degree from the University of Buffalo in 1958. Following completion of an internship and residency at the Children's Hospital of Buffalo in 1961, he received post-doctoral training in developmental immunology at the University of Florida School of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida in 1961-62 and later continued his studies as a research virologist at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, DC in 1962-65, where among his many research contributions with his colleagues was the seminal description of the of secretory IgA antiviral principle of respiratory secretions. In 1963, he joined the faculty of Georgetown University School of Medicine as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology, where he rose to his current position of Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology – Immunology in 1970.

Soon after arriving at Georgetown, he realized that his goal of generating new knowledge in immunology and translating it to clinical use would require adopting a multidisciplinary approach to immunology that would involve a horizontal matrix including both basic and clinical investigators, allied health professionals, statisticians, and health educators and the public. Accordingly, in 1975 he established and became the Director of the International Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Immunology at Georgetown University Medical Center and later Director of the Division of Allergy-Immunology, Department of Pediatrics and the Division of Virology and Immunology in the Department of Laboratory Medicine of Georgetown University Hospital, positions he currently holds as consultant. The location of ICISI in the nation's capital has enhanced its international perspective; students, physicians, and scientists from all over the world are invited to study there.

Dr. Bellanti has focused a major investigative effort on antimicrobial research, evaluation of new vaccine strategies and developmental immunology. Together with other investigators, he has studied antibody and phagocytic cell function in the newborn human and in experimental model systems. He and his colleagues described the antiviral activity of the secretory IgA system in respiratory secretions and later cellular responses to viral infections following immunization or natural infection. A major collaborative effort with Mexican colleagues is being directed to the study of protective immune responses to measles vaccine administration via the nasal route, a technique originally developed by Dr. Albert B. Sabin, one of Dr. Bellanti’s scientific teachers.

In addition to teaching medical students and residents, he directed a postgraduate training program in developmental immunology since 1968 and a clinical residency program in allergy and immunology since 1978. The ICISI has trained over 270 candidates who come to the Center from the US as well as from countries throughout the world. Dr. Bellanti served on the American Board of Allergy and Immunology, a conjoint board of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Pediatrics from 1975 to 1980, and was its president from 1979 to 1980.

He is past-president of the Society for Pediatric Research (1980), InterAsma (1987-90), the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI, 1991-92), and Association of Medical Laboratory Immunologists (AMLI, 1992-93). Frequently, he lectures abroad in Europe and South America, sometimes in fluent Spanish or Italian. Dr. Bellanti is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the E. Mead Johnson Award for excellence in pediatric research (1970); the Outstanding Educators of America Award of the William Peck Society (1972), from the American College of Allergy and Immunology; the Humanitarian Award for "excellence and service and teaching of clinical immunology” in 1974, and the Distinguished Fellow Award in 1981. In 1998 he received the Distinguished Medical Alumnus Award from the State University of Buffalo, Buffalo, New York. He is also the recipient of two honorary degrees: Honoris causa degrees from the University of Palermo (1992) and Georgetown University (2002).

Dr. Bellanti has published more than 400 scientific articles and abstracts, as well as numerous textbook chapters and his widely acclaimed textbooks in immunology the fourth edition of which has recently been published in 2012. Dr. Bellanti’s editorial positions include editor in chief of Pediatric Research from 1975 to 1983, editor-in-chief of Annals of Allergy from 1982 to 1990 and currently editor-in-chief Allergy, Asthma Proceedings (2004- present).