Lab Directory

HIV Specialty Laboratory

The newest division of the Medical Laboratories, the HIV Specialty Laboratory is widely recognized for developing, conducting and evaluating HIV tests for clinical drug trials and for clinicians in the field. We specialize in the measurement of viral RNA levels, conducting more than 10,000 HIV-1 RNA tests a year. This test has revolutionized HIV research and the care of HIV-infected patients. With it, researchers can evaluate the new anti-retroviral drug therapies for HIV. And physicians can now closely monitor the HIV levels of their patients to determine when they need to start drug therapy and how well a drug therapy is working.


Established at Johns Hopkins Medical Laboratories in 1996, the HIV Specialty Laboratory plays a critical role in government- and industry-sponsored clinical studies of drug therapies. As an acknowledged leader in AIDS research, Hopkins' investigators collaborate in many subspecialty areas such as pediatric and neurological HIV and opportunistic infections. Hopkins has enhanced these research capabilities by bringing to its new laboratory leaders in the field of HIV virologic testing to develop and conduct tests that detect and measure HIV.


Expert Consultation
Dr. Brooks Jackson, Director of the HIV Specialty Laboratory, has worked in the field of HIV virologic testing for more than 17 years. In addition to evaluating a number of different intitative HIV-1 RNA tests, and serving on and chairing several national Committees, he has been principal investigator of various clinical drug trials and protocols involving HIV transmission in the United States and Africa. Because of his broad experience, Dr. Jackson understands the issues facing researchers and physicians as they interpret and act on test results.

Dr. Susan Eshleman, Associate Director of the laboratory, has worked in the field of Molecular Virology for more than seven years. She is a board-certified clinical pathologist, with extensive experience in molecular analysis of viral genes and gene products. This includes molecular cloning, DNA sequencing, and expression of viral proteins in cell-free systems and issue culture. She has established assays for sequencing RT, protease, and gp120 regions of HIV-1 and directs the Sequencing Laboratory for the Adult ACTG Virology Support Laboratories at Hopkins.

Special capabilities and services
Over the past 10 years, Dr. Jackson has set up and overseen the performance of the following tests, which are currently approved by the NIAID Viral Quality Assurance Program (VQA) for use in AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) protocols at Johns Hopkins University:

Currently enrolled in the VQA certification process and CAP proficiency surveys, this laboratory has always been approved to perform these tests for ACTG protocols since 1988.

Of particular import to our customers in supplying needed tests, the HIV Specialty Laboratory is also CLIA-approved. Our freezer inventory system, which is comparable to those found in large commercial labs, allows us to catalogue and maintain all our specimens for future studies.

Timely Results

We can report virtually all results within five calendar days; the majority, within three days of receipt. Final reports on cultures are generally issued in 3-5 weeks. (Call the Customer Service line for information on preparing specimens for shipping.) Results can be provided by phone, fax, e-mail or written report. Dr. Jackson and Dr. Eshleman are also available for expert consultation on test results.


Dr. Brooks Jackson

J. Brooks Jackson, M.D.


Education and Training

Professional Interests
Human immunodeficiency virus infections. Study of HIV-1 perinatal transmission. Developed and evaluated new test procedures for HIV-1 and their use in perinatal and sexual transmission studies and experimental trials. Transfusion-transmitted viruses and safety of the blood supply.

Notable Accomplishments
Evaluation of HIV-1 DNA and quantitative HIV-1 RNA tests. Significant contributions to the ACTG, including the development of a rapid and sensitive qualitative HIV-1 cell culture. Principal Investigator of several international HIV clinical trials. Designed and implemented HIV-1 DNA PCR and HIV-1 RNA quality assurance programs, essential to the reliable diagnosis of HIV-1 infection by PCR in infants. Published a number of articles on HIV-1 perinatal transmission and the efficacy of new anti-retroviral therapies.

Major Professional Leadership


Dr. Susan Eshleman

Susan Eshleman, M.D., Ph.D.


Education and Training

Professional Interests
Molecular virology, viral glycoproteins, HIV-1 genotypic diversity, HIV-1 perinatal transmission, HIV-1 resistance.

Notable Accomplishments
Set up and standardized tests for cloning and sequencing the RT, protease, and gp120 V3 regions of HIV-1. Established an assay for analyzing glycosylation in the V3 region of HIV-1 gp120. Characterized signals which control site-specific glycosylation in viral glycoproteins.


To order, call Customer Service at 1-800-997-5475 between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.

Special Ordering Instructions

To send consult slides
Forward slides by courier or express mail to:
Johns Hopkins Medical Laboratories
1620 McElderry Street
Reed Hall Rm 315
Baltimore, MD 21205
Phone 410-955-2405
Fax 410-367-2404