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Kim Blenman, PhD, MS

Assistant Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology)


Kim RM Blenman, PhD, MS is an immunologist and clinical chemist who uses and develops novel software tools to understand the mechanisms responsible for disparities in disease pathogenesis and therapeutic response. She earned a doctorate in immunology, a master's in clinical chemistry, and a bachelor's in chemistry from the University of Florida. Her research at that time focused on the autoimmune disease Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

Dr Blenman also has a certificate in Drug Development and Regulatory Sciences from the University of California San Francisco. She had the privilege of learning and working on drug discovery and clinical development at Procter & Gamble's Pharmaceutical division as a senior scientist and as a global research director for autoimmune diseases Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

As a Clinical Scientist, her interest in cancer research, therapeutic development, and health disparities prompted her to re-enter academia and leverage her learnings from the pharmaceutical industry. She re-entered academia as a traditional Postdoctoral Fellow at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in California. During her fellowship, she uncovered a potential use for B cells in predicting disease-free survival in breast cancer patients. In collaboration with Cambridge Research Institute/Perkin Elmer (now Akoya Bioscience), Dr Blenman also helped to develop the Vectra Quantitative Multispectral Imaging System for immunology applications.

Dr Blenman is currently at Yale University as faculty in the Department of Internal Medicine Section of Medical Oncology and Yale Cancer Center. She has publications in melanoma suggesting that along with other immune cells, B cell and neutrophils may have a role in tumor regression and immunotherapy response (anti-PD-1, anti-CTLA-4, and/or combination) in murine models and in patients. She also has publications in methods, software tool workflow, and data standards for flow cytometry and high complexity histology. She is currently working on several breast cancer clinical studies interrogating the immune components of the tumor microenvironment of patients treated with immunotherapy and patients of different ancestries. For these studies, Dr Blenman is interested in understanding and identifying specific immune mechanisms that are responsible for disparities in therapeutic efficacy and toxicity between ancestry groups.

Additionally, Dr Blenman is also an active academic citizen. She mentors Postdocs and undergraduates internally and external to Yale. She helps to find ways to support equity and diversity for Yale Faculty as member of the Steering and Council for the Yale University Women Faculty Forum, as an Executive Board Member of the Yale School of Medicine Committee on the Status of Women in Medicine, and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Yale School of Medicine Minority Organization for Recruitment and Expansion.

Her academic citizenship also expands beyond Yale in the areas of Flow cytometry and Pathology. Flow cytometry is an exquisite approach to identifying the contents of any solid tissue or blood microenvironment as well as components of bacteria and plants. Dr Blenman has been an active member of the International Society for the Advancement of Cytometry (ISAC) Data Standards Task Force since 2009. The Task Force develops flow cytometry related data standards and file formats to facilitate software and hardware interoperability for research and clinical applications. Current standards and recommendations include FCS, Gating-ML, MIFlowCyt, NetCDF, and ACS.

The Flow Cytometry Standard (FCS) is the primary interchange format for flow cytometry data. All cytometer manufacturers support iterations up to the current version (FCS 3.1). The ISAC Data Standards Task Force recently released the new FCS 3.2 specifications and published a new nomenclature for probe tags (GitHub - ISAC-DSTF/ProbeTagDictionary: Standardized Nomenclature for Detection and Visualization Labels Used in Cytometry and Microscopy Imaging). We are currently working on FCS 4.0 which will focus on incorporating multispectral cytometry standards into the specification. Gating-ML is an XML-based mechanism used to describe gates including encoding, data transformations, and compensation. Minimum Information about a Flow Cytometry Experiment (MIFlowCyt) standard defines the minimum information required to report flow cytometry experiments. Network Common Data Form (NetCDF) data format is the next generation of the FCS standards for storing and retrieving Big Data in the form of n-dimensional arrays. Archival Cytometry Standard (ACS) supports bundling of data with different components describing cytometry experiments.

Histology is a pathologist’s and clinician’s first step to diagnosing and monitoring many diseases. In clinical practice, histological analysis of immune cells in solid tissue is now required for diagnosis, therapeutic selection, and therapeutic monitoring of many diseases including cancer. The morphological pattern, quantity, and quality of stromal tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (sTILs) are key to histological analysis. Dr Blenman is an active member of the International Immuno-Oncology Biomarker Working Group. The purpose of the working group is to propose scientific strategies regarding the standardization, validation, and clinical utility of immune-oncology biomarkers. We have recently published articles that describe (1) the pitfalls of assessing sTILs, (2) a risk management framework of integrating sTILs into clinical trials, and (3) opportunities to use computational methods on sTILs images to identify and extract morphologic features.

Education & Training

  • Postdoctoral Fellow
    City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center (2014)
  • Fellowship
    University of California – College of Medicine, San Francisco (2009)
  • PhD
    University of Florida College of Medicine (2005)
  • MS
    University of Florida College of Medicine (2000)

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
Blavatnik Funding and Pitchfest 2019 QuarterfinalistYale University2018
Melanoma Research Alliance Young Investigator AwardMelanoma Research Alliance2015
Trainee Travel Award, American Association of ImmunologistAmerican Association of Immunologist2013
Power of You AwardProcter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals2008
Power of You AwardProcter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals2007
Power of You AwardProcter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals2006
Women’s Club ScholarshipUniversity of Florida2004
Graduate Fellowship for Outstanding Research, Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical SciencesUniversity of Florida College of Medicine2004
Academic Achievement Award, Office of Minority AffairsUniversity of Florida College of Medicine2004
Journal Article of the Week, Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical SciencesUniversity of Florida College of Medicine2004
Research and Technology Careers in Industry Conference AwardProcter & Gamble Corporation2004
NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Fellowship NIH Rheumatology Training GrantUniversity of Florida College of Medicine2002
Academic Achievement Award, Office of Minority AffairsUniversity of Florida College of Medicine2002
Medical Guild Mini-GrantUniversity of Florida College of Medicine2000

Professional Service

International Immuno-Oncology Biomarker Working Group on Breast CancerMember2019 - Present
SITC Women in Cancer Immunotherapy Network (WIN) TeamMember2019 - Present
Clinical Cancer Research (AACR)Reviewer2019 - Present
SITC Champion, Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC)Member2019 - Present
Cancer Research (AACR)Reviewer2018 - Present
Yale University Women Faculty Forum - Seed Grant CommitteeReviewer2018 - Present
Website and Communications Committee, Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC)Committee Member2016 - Present
Cytometry AReviewer2013 - 2014
Data Repository Task Force, International Society for Advancement of Cytometry (ISAC)Committee Member2009 - Present
Flow Cytometry Standards Task Force, International Society for Advancement of Cytometry (ISAC)Committee Member2009 - Present
Image Cytometry Standards Task Force, International Society for Advancement of Cytometry (ISAC)Committee Member2009 - Present

Departments & Organizations