Skip Navigation Celebrating America's Women Physicians
Changing the face of Medicine Home Visit Physicians
Resources Activities Share your Story



Dr. Karin J. Blakemore

Year of Birth / Death

b. 1953

Medical School

Medical College of Ohio at Toledo



Career Path

Research: Human genetics
Obstetrics and gynecology
Dr. Karin J. Blakemore


Dr. Karin Blakemore was part of a team that developed an animal model (mouse) to investigate the potential for in utero transplantation of donor cells to combat genetic disorders.


Karin Blakemore, M.D., is a leader in the field of medical genetics. Her experience with in utero fetal treatment and first trimester prenatal diagnosis led to a new area of research, in utero bone marrow transplantation for genetic disorders of the fetus.

Karin Blakemore received her B.A. degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her M.D. degree from the Medical College of Ohio at Toledo in 1978. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in human genetics at Yale University School of Medicine, where she was on a team that developed a potential sonographic screening method for Down syndrome. Her postdoctoral fellowship in maternal-fetal medicine was at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.

Karin Blakemore joined the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1987 and was appointed director of the chorionic villus sampling program and laboratory and director of the AFP (alpha-fetoprotein) referral service. Chorionic villus sampling is a relatively new procedure used to diagnose certain types of birth defects during the first three months of pregnancy. Because the tissue of the mother's placenta and the fetus are genetically identical, it is possible to determine the genetic characteristics of the fetus by taking a tiny sample of chorionic villi from the outer wall of the mother's placenta. AFP testing is used to detect fetal distress or fetal abnormalities. In 1992, Dr. Blakemore became director of the prenatal diagnostic center, and in 1994, she was appointed director of maternal-fetal medicine and that division's fellowship training program.

Her interests include prenatal diagnosis and genetic abnormalities of the fetus, maternal and fetal physiology during pregnancy, fetal therapy, in utero bone marrow transplantation, red cell alloimmunization, and platelet alloimmunization (serious transfusion complications in which the recipient forms antibodies to attack donor antigens).

Dr. Blakemore's team at the Johns Hopkins University's Institute of Genetic Medicine developed a human-mouse model to help determine the best number of cells to use in human in utero transplantation. Transplanting human donor cells into an animal model seems to predict both extremes of outcome seen in the human transplant efforts. Transplanting too many cells resulted in hyperengraftment, and transplanting too few resulted in engraftment failure. From such studies, it may be possible to develop in utero transplants for a variety of congenital disorders.

Dr. Blakemore has three board certifications, from the American Board of Medical Genetics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Maternal-Fetal Medicine. She also holds joint faculty appointments as associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in both oncology, and obstetrics and gynecology, and in population and family health sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomburg School of Public Health.

Dr. Blakemore was recommended by her peers to "Best Doctors in America" and has been recognized by the Society of Perinatal Obstetricians with their Award for Best Genetic Research in the Field of Perinatal Medicine.