Dr. Judith A. Whittum-Hudson, Ph.D.
Dr. Judith Whittum-Hudson is Professor Emerita at Wayne State University School of Medicine. She is a member of the Departments of Immunology & Microbiology (now merged as Microbiology, Immunology & Biochemistry), Internal Medicine (Rheumatology), and Ophthalmology; she is an Adjunct Professor Emerita in the Dept of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science in the College of Engineering.
Dr. Whittum-Hudson has been involved in chlamydia research and the quest for protective vaccines for most of her career, beginning at the Harvard School of Public Health in the trachoma research group. She obtained her BA in Biology from Wells College (Aurora, NY). Following 6 years of lab research, two of which were in Saudi Arabia doing trachoma field work with the Harvard group, she obtained her Ph.D. in Immunology/Pathology at the University of Connecticut Health Science Center (Farmington, CT). After a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center/Southwestern University in Dallas, TX, she joined the faculty of the Immunology group at the Wilmer Eye Institute at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institution in Baltimore, MD. There, she returned to chlamydia vaccine research testing new candidate vaccines in primates and in a mouse ocular infection model which she developed. During that period, collaborations with investigators at both Hopkins and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst tested numerous vaccine formulations in animals. During this period, her laboratory began testing candidate iterations of a chlamydial glycolipid exoantigen (GLXA) in the mouse ocular model and subsequently a genital infection model. The first protective version of the vaccine was a monoclonal anti-idiotypic antibody (mAb2) which was a molecular mimic of the GLXA. During this period, the Whittum-Hudson lab began studies of experimental chlamydial reactive arthritis in mice, in collaboration with Alan Hudson and H. Ralph Schumacher in Philadelphia. They found that human biovars of C trachomatisdisseminated from infected conjunctivae or genital tracts to joints of inbred mice to serve as a model of human reactive arthritis. Importantly, vaccination reduced dissemination and joint histopathology. In 1998, Dr. Whittum-Hudson moved her laboratory to the Wayne State University School of Medicine, as Professor in the Departments of Internal Medicine (Rheumatology), Immunology & Microbiology, and Ophthalmology. The vaccine studies continued and evolved to include identification of peptide antigens by use of phage display: mice immunized with several different peptides developed protective immunity and had reduced genital infections and pathology. Through collaborations with a pharmaceutical scientist (Panyam) and chemical engineers (Kannan, da Rocha) at Wayne State, her lab showed that nanoparticles or dendrimers could target antibiotics to infected cells and tissues. Other more recent studies showed significant protection after vaccination with peptide-dendrimer conjugates. Dr. Whittum-Hudson has co-authored a number of papers and reviews on the presence of C pneumoniae in brains of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease patients. Dr. Whittum-Hudson was recipient of funding from the NIH, the Wilson Foundation, and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. She has co-authored numerous papers and chapters and is a co-inventor on several patents. She became Professor Emerita in 2014.