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Cynthia L Sears, M.D.

Photo of Dr. Cynthia L Sears, M.D.
  • Professor of Medicine


Diarrheal Disease, Infectious Disease, Infectious Diseases

Research Interests

Infectious diarrheal diseases; cryptosporidiosis; food borne disease; bacteroides fragilis infections

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The Johns Hopkins Hospital (Main Entrance)

Appointment Phone: 410-955-1725
1800 Orleans St.
Sheikh Zayed Tower
Baltimore, MD 21287 map


An expert in foodborne and intestinal infections, Cynthia Sears is a professor of medicine and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as well as a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is the microbiome program leader of the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins and is director of the Johns Hopkins Germ-free Murine Facility.

She is an infectious diseases expert who has focused on gut infections including diarrhea, foodborne illnesses Clostridium difficile (C. diff) and Helicobacter pylori during her career. In the laboratory and in clinical settings, she has studied the pathogenesis of enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis (ETBF) over the past 25 years. The current focus of the Sears laboratory is to determine how the microbiota and specific bacteria contribute to colon carcinogenesis. The Sears laboratory integrates studies in humans and mouse models, employing microbiology, bioinformatics and immunologic methods. Dr. Sears has worked abroad in Thailand, Brazil, Haiti, Bangladesh and Malaysia.

Dr. Sears served as associate editor of Clinical Infectious Diseases from 2000 to 2016. She has been an active member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) for more than 20 years, serving the society in numerous capacities, and is currently president of the organization.  

Dr. Sears received her medical degree from Thomas Jefferson Medical College followed by training in internal medicine at The New York Hospital (Cornell Medical School) in New York City. She trained in infectious diseases at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute and the University of Virginia. Dr. Sears joined the faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1988. more


  • Professor of Medicine
  • Professor of Oncology

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • MD, Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University (1977)

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Internal Medicine / Infectious Disease (1986)
  • American Board of Internal Medicine / Internal Medicine (1980)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Expert in foodborne and enteric infections and has studied the pathogenesis of enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis (ETBF) both in the laboratory and in clinical settings over the past nearly 20 years.  Scientific work has been funded continuously by the NIH since 1993.  Presently focusing on mouse and human studies to define how ETBF and the colonic microbiota induce chronie colonic inflammation and colon cancer.

Contact for Research Inquiries

Johns Hopkins University
1550 Orleans Street
Suite 1M05
Baltimore, MD 21287 map

Activities & Honors

Professional Activities

  • Associate Editor, Clinical Infectious Deiseases, 2000
  • President, Anaerobe Society of the Americas

Videos & Media

Recent News Articles and Media Coverage

Biofilm Holds Clues to Colon Cancer, Inside Tract (Summer, 2016)

Patient Ratings & Comments

The Patient Rating score is an average of all responses to physician related questions on the national CG-CAHPS Medical Practice patient experience survey through Press Ganey. Responses are measured on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best score. Comments are also gathered from our CG-CAHPS Medical Practice Survey through Press Ganey and displayed in their entirety. Patients are de-identified for confidentiality and patient privacy.

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