Medical School: Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University
Residency: Internal Medicine, UAB
Fellowship: Infectious Diseases, UAB
Dr. Heath is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is Board-certified in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases. She also received a Master’s Degree in Microbiology and Immunology. Her translational laboratory is focused on investigating T and B cell biology in HIV infection and vaccine development, with external funding through NIH and CDC. Her research program has focused on understanding 1) HIV specific CD8 T cell responses and how exhaustion, senescence, and inflammation impair immunity; 2) use of cell death and survival biomarkers to elucidate the generation and maintenance of robust anti-viral immune responses in HIV infection and vaccination; 3) accelerated aging and immunosenescence in HIV infection and the extent that mitochondrial dysfunction drives this; and 4) preservation of immune function and benefit of rapid detection and treatment of acute HIV. Dr. Heath has also developed primary HIV infection laboratories with nucleic acid amplification testing and subsequently fourth generation HIV testing for the detection of acute HIV. She also serves as the PI on the CDC funded program implementing Universal HIV Screening and linkage to care at the UAB Emergency Department with expansion to community health centers serving populations disproportionately affected by HIV.
Dr. Heath is a Co-Investigator of the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic (AVRC) and serves as PI for ongoing clinical trials for early HIV treatment and therapeutic vaccination for immune preservation. She is also active in the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) and the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN).
- Characterization of cytotoxic T Lymphocyte (CTL) responses at various stages of HIV infection.
- Maintenance of memory CTL responses in HIV infection.
- Mechanisms of generating an optimal immune response (HIV vaccine development).
- Factors influencing cell death and survival of HIV specific CD8 T cells.