Physician Education: Bridging Clinical Research and Patient Care

Faculty Profile

Member, Board of Directors
Editor, Topics in Antiviral Medicine
Professor of Medicine
Divisions of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health
I.D. Training Program Director
Director, Antiviral Research Center
PI/Director, HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials Unit
University of California San Diego
San Diego, California

Topics of Professional Interest:
  • Opportunistic infections (MAC, CMV, TB, HCV, PCP)/prophylaxis issues
  • Treatment failure - salvage therapy
  • Treatment interruptions
  • Acute/primary HIV infection
  • Immune reconstitution syndromes
  • When to start therapy
Current Professional Summary:

Constance A. Benson, MD is a Professor of Medicine and Senior Attending Physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at University of California, San Diego. She is the Director of the UCSD Antiviral Research Unit (AVRC), the Principal Investigator (PI) and Director of the UCSD HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials Unit (ACTU), and the Infectious Diseases Training Program Director for the UCSD School of Medicine. Dr Benson served as the PI and Chair of the NIH AIDS Clinical Trials Group Network (ACTG), a multinational, multicenter, clinical investigation network with research sites in 15 countries, funded by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the NIH, and as the Chair of the ACTG Executive Committee and Vice Chair of the Scientific Agenda Steering Committee from 2003 through July, 2010. She served as the Vice Chair of the ACTG Network from 1995 to July, 2003. 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 four major reference laboratories to conduct sophisticated and quality controlled viral genotypic resistance testing and additional laboratories that now conduct sophisticated diagnostic testing for tuberculosis (TB) culture and drug susceptibility testing in support of the ACTG Network trials related to TB.

Dr Benson also has served as a member of the NIH Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council (OARAC) from 2000-2003 and as Chair of the OARAC from 2001-2003; on numerous NIH ad hoc study sections; on 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 has served 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 AVRC, she manages a large and broad 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 opportunistic infections, malignancies, HIV-related complications and other infectious diseases of global health impact. The AVRC routinely conducts on average 40-50 active clinical trials in these areas of research at any given time.

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.  Dr Benson received her MD 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, and remained there for 11 years, before being recruited to the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. She was recruited to UCSD in 2005. Dr. Benson is an internationally-recognized researcher and clinician working in the field of HIV/AIDS since 1984. Her 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. Her contributions to the field of HIV/AIDS are numerous. To date, she has published more than 220 original manuscripts and, book chapters reporting and summarizing findings from her research. Lastly, Dr Benson maintains active clinical duties as a specialist in Infectious Diseases and HIV care at UCSD.

Committees and Organizations:
  • Fellow, American College of Physicians (1985-)
  • Fellow, Infectious Disease Society of America (1989-)
  • Member, International Antiviral Society (1997-)
  • Member, Board of Directors, IAS–USA (1997-)
  • Member, Metabolic Complications Guidelines Panel, IAS–USA
  • Member, Board of Directors, Foundation for Human Retrovirology (1997-)
Honors and Awards:
  • Outstanding Medical Resident Award, Rush Medical College (1981)
  • Constance B. Wofsy Women's Health Investigator Award, NIH/NIAID/AIDS Clinical Trials Group (1996)
  • Ohio State University, BS, Cum Laude, Zoology (1970-1975)
  • Ohio State University College of Medicine, MD, Cum Laude with Honors (1975-1978)
  • Rush Medical College/Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Internship/Residency, Categorical Internal Medicine (1978-1981)
  • Rush Medical College/Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Fellowship in Infectious Diseases (1984-1986)
Selected Publications:
  1. Benson CA. Treatment of disseminated disease due to the Mycobacterium avium complex in patients with AIDS. Clin Infect Dis. 1994;18:S237-S242.
  2. Chaisson RE, Benson CA, Dube MP, Heifets LB, Korvick JA, Elkiun S, Smith T, Craft JC, Sattler FR, and the AIDS Clinical Trials Group Protocol 157 Study Team. Clarithromycin therapy for bacteremic Mycobacterium avium complex disease. A randomized, double-blind, dose-ranging study in patients with AIDS. Ann Intern Med. 1994;121:905-911.
  3. Sha BE, Benson CA, Pottage JC Jr, Urbanski PA, Daugherty SR, Kessler HA. HIV infection in women: an observational study of clinical characteristics, disease progression, and survival for a cohort of women in Chicago. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol. 1995;8:486-495.
  4. Ellis LC, Benson CA, Koenig GI, Trenholme GM. Postantibiotic effect of clarithromycin alone and combined with ethambutol against Mycobacterium avium complex. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1995; 39:2803-2806.
  5. Sha BE, D'Amico RD, Landay AL, Spear GT, Massad LS, Warner NA, Rydman RJ, Padnick J, Ackatz L, Charles LA, Benson CA. Evaluation of immunologic markers in cervicovaginal fluid of HIV-infected and uninfected women: implications for the immunologic response to HIV in the female genital tract. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol. 1997;16:161-168.
  6. Spear GT, Sha BE, Saarloos MN, Benson CA, Rydman R, Massad LS, Gilmore R, Landay A. Chemokines are present in the genital tract of HIV-seropositive and seronegative women; correlation with clinical conditions and other immune mediators. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol. 1998;18:454-459.
  7. Benson CA, Williams PL, Cohn DL, Becker S, Hojczyk P, Nevin T, Korvick JA, Heifets L, Child CC, Lederman MM, Reichman RC, Powderly WG, Notario GF, Wynne BA, Hafner R. Clarithromycin or rifabutin alone or in combination for the primary prophylaxis of Mycobacterium avium complex disease in patients with AIDS: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Infect Dis. 2000;181:1289-1297.
  8. Currier JS, Williams PL, Koletar SL, Benson CA, Valdez H, Aberg JA, and McCutchan A, for the ACTG 362 Study Team (11th author). Discontinuation of Mycobacterium avium complex prophylaxis in patients with antiretroviral therapy-induced increases in CD4+ cell count. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2000;133:493-503.
  9. Johnson SC, Benson CA, Johnson DW, Weinberg A. Recurrences of cytomegalovirus retinitis in a human immunodeficiency virus-infected patient, despite potent antiretroviral therapy and apparent immune reconstitution. Clin Infect Dis. 2001;32:815-819.
  10. Murphy RL, Brun S, Hicks C, Eron JJ, Gulick R, King M, White AC Jr, Benson C, et al. ABT-378/ritonavir plus stavudine and lamivudine for the treatment of antiretroviral-naive adults with HIV-1 infection: 48-week results. AIDS. 2001;15:F1-F9.


Improving the Management of HIV Disease®: An Advanced CME Live Course in HIV Pathogenesis, Antiretrovirals, and Other Selected Issues in HIV Disease Management

An Advanced CME Live Course in HIV Pathogenesis, Antiretrovirals, and Other Selected Issues in HIV Disease Management

An Advanced CME Course in HIV Pathogenesis, Antiretrovirals, and Other Selected Issues in HIV Disease Management


Günthard HF, Saag MS, Benson CA, del Rio C, Eron JJ, Gallant JE, Hoy JF, Mugavero MJ, Sax PE, Thompson MA, Gandhi RT, Landovitz RJ, Smith DM, Jacobsen DM, Volberding PA. Antiretroviral Drugs for Treatment and Prevention of HIV Infection in Adults 2016 Recommendations of the International Antiviral Society–USA Panel. JAMA. 2016.

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Marrazzo JM, del Rio C, Holtgrave DR, Cohen MS, Kalichman SC, Mayer KH, Montaner JSG, Wheeler DP, Grant RM, Grinsztejn B, Kumarasamy N, Shoptaw S, Walensky RP, Dabis F, Sugarman J, Benson CA. HIV Prevention in Clinical Care Settings: 2014 Recommendations of the International Antiviral Society–USA Panel. JAMA. 2014.

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