Prof. Charles L. Greenblatt, M.D.


Ancient DNA, Pathogens & Material Culture Research
Laboratory Co-Principal.


1948-1952 Harvard College, cum laude, AB Biology.

1952-1956 University of Pennsylvania, MD School of Medicine.

1956-1957 Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital Internship.



1957-1959 Commissioned officer, US Public Health Services.

1957-1960 National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, Laboratory of Physical Biology, National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases.

1959-1961 Assigned from US Public Health Service to El Salvador, Faculty of Medicine. Visiting Professor of Microbiology.

1961-1966 Returned to previous assignment, NIH.

1966-1968 Head, Section of Cell Biology and Immunology. Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Laboratory of Physical Biology, NIH.

1968-2018 Hebrew University, Professor of Parasitology, Hadassah Medical School.

1974-1978 Chairman, Department of Parasitology.

1977-1982 Director of the Kuvin Centre for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases.

1986-1989 Director, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Hebrew University.


Ongoing Research

    Our small unit is embarked on a bold program of building around a central "Ancient DNA" (aDNA) core research a program in our bio-cultural heritage. These new areas of research take advantage of the advances in technology and molecular biology to express in atomic and molecular terms our evolutionary history. aDNA studies have continued to advance, and especially the area of ancient pathogens. 2003 - 2005 has been a period of moving beyond the establishment of the field into truly substantive areas of research. Our articles are now appearing in the Lancet and Proceedings of the Royal Society and stirring up considerable interest. Pathogen evolution and the interaction of pathogens are now in the forefront of understanding emerging infectious diseases. Now the ability to examine host resistance factors in populations is a challenge and a true possibility. We are now beginning to examine how these findings will impact on public health practices. We have now edited the first collection of articles on ancient pathogens, published by Oxford University Press. It appeared in March of 2003, entitled "Emerging Pathogens, the archaeology, ecology, and evolution of infectious disease". It has received excellent critical reviews (8).

    Studies of the evolution of pathogenesis are underway. Organisms isolated from amber are the central focus of studies on the persistence on non-spore forming organisms. Remarkable relationships between dormancy and the very hostile environment of amber have been revealed. Another study examines the evolutionary origins of the metabolic systems of leishmania. Targets related to the inheritance of traits from photosynthetic bacteria are being exploited as chemotherapeutic targets.

    In the area of material culture, a major work on Qumran by an associate of the unit, Jan Gunneweg, has recently been published by Academic Press, Fribourg. It is the definitive description of the material culture of Qumran - "Qumran, without the Dead Sea Scrolls". Based upon its contents, a meeting of COST (a European Community Network on science and technology) Action G8 was held on the 22 and 23rd of May 2005A at the Belgium House of the Hebrew University. It brought together in a workshop format 25 European experts who have studied findings from Qumran with advanced physical and chemical methods. The "Biological and Material Culture of Qumran at the Dead Sea" is now constituted as a Working Group of COST. A new aspect that we introduced into the COST agenda was on the impact of biological agents in the destruction of organic materials, specifically the biopolymers. We are certain this workshop will have a major impact on the future of scientific archaeology in Israel.

Key Publications

Faerman M, Filon D, Kahila G, Greenblatt CL, Smith P, Oppenheim A. Sex identification of archaeological human remains based on amplification of the X and Y amelogenin alleles. Gene 167(1-2): 327-32 (1995)

Woodward SR, Kahila G, Smith P, Greenblatt C, Zias J, Broshi M. Analysis of Parchment Fragments from the Judean Desert Using DNA Techniques. In Parry DW, Ricks SD (eds.) Current Research & Technological Developments on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands (1996)

Faerman M, Jankauskas R, Gorski A, Bercovier H, Greenblatt CL. Prevalence of human tuberculosis in a medieval population of Lithuania studied by ancient DNA analysis. Ancient Biomolecules 1: 205-214 (1997)

Faerman M, Kahila G, Smith P, Greenblatt C, Stager L, Filon D, Oppenheim A. DNA analysis reveals the sex of infanticide victims. Nature 385: 212-213 (1997)
Faerman M, Kahila Bar-Gal G, Filon D, Greenblatt CL, Stager L, Oppenheim A, Smith P. Determining the sex of infanticide victims from the Late Roman era through ancient DNA analysis. Journal of Archaeological Science 25: 861-865 (1998)

Greenblatt CL (ed.) Digging for Pathogens: Ancient Emerging Diseases - Their Evolutionary, Anthropological and Archaeological Context. Balaban Publishers, Rehovot, Israel (1998)

Greenblatt CL, Davis A, Clement BG, Kitts CL, Cox T, Cano RJ. Diversity of Microorganisms Isolated from Amber. Microb Ecol.  38(1): 58-68 (1999)

Rothschild B, Martin L, Lev G, Kahila G, Bercovier H, Greenblatt C, Donoghue HD, Spigelman M  Mycobacterium-tuberculosis-complex DNA from an extinct bison dated 17,000 years BP. Clin. Inf. Dis. 33: 305-311 (2001)

Kahila Bar-Gal G, Greenblatt CL, Woodward SR, Broshi M, Smith P. The Genetic Signature of the Dead Sea Scrolls. In Goodblatt D, Pinnick A, Schwartz DR (eds.) Historical Perspectives: From the Hasmoneans to Bar Kokhba in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands (2001)

Spigelman M, Matheson C, Lev G, Greenblatt C, Donoghue HD. Confirmation of the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex-specific DNA in three archaeological specimens. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 12(6): 393-401 (2002)

Greenblatt CL, Spigelman M (eds.) Emerging Pathogens: the archaeology, ecology, and evolution of infectious disease. Oxford University Press, NY, USA (2003)

Greenblatt C, Spigelman M, Vernon K. The impact of "ancient pathogen" studies on the practice of public health. Public Health Rev. 31(2): 81-91 (2003)

Greenblatt CL, Baum J, Klein BY, Nachshon S, Koltunov V, Cano RJ. Micrococcus luteus -- survival in amber. Microb Ecol. 48(1): 120-7 (2004)

Donoghue HD, Spigelman M, Greenblatt CL, Lev-Maor G, Bar-Gal GK, Matheson C, Vernon K, Nerlich AG, Zink AR. Tuberculosis: from prehistory to Robert Koch, as revealed by ancient DNA. Lancet Infect Dis. 4(9): 584-92 (2004)

Donoghue HD, Marcsik A, Matheson C, Vernon K, Nuorala E, Molto JE, Greenblatt CL, Spigelman M. Co-infection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium leprae in human archaeological samples: a possible explanation for the historical decline of leprosy. Proc Biol Sci. 272(1561): 389-94 (2005)

Zink AR, Spigelman M, Schraut B, Greenblatt CL, Nerlich AG, Donoghue HD. Leishmaniasis in ancient Egypt and Upper nubia. Emerg Infect Dis. 12(10): 1616-7 (2006)

Greenblatt C. and Zylber M.I. 2006. Introduction to the bio cultural research of organic materials at Qumran and the Dead Sea area. In J. Gunneweg, C. Greenblatt and A. Adriaens (eds.) Bio – and Material Cultures at Qumran: Papers from a COST Action G8 working group meeting held in Jerusalem, Israel, 22-23 May 2005. Fraunhofer IRB Verlag, Stuttgart, pp. 25-28.

Selected Research Support

1998-2004 Center for the Study of Emerging Diseases. Ancient Pathogens.

2003-2004 David and Tasha Stadtner Fund. Molecular Taphonomy.

2004-2005 Karen Kayemet of Israel. Paleobotany

2004-2006 Australian Friends of Hebrew University. Tuberculosis research.
Israeli Government, MInistry of Absorption. Student support.