February 08, 2022

Heffron named director for Center for AIDS Research

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Renee Heffron, Ph.D., MPH, has been named director for the Center for AIDS Research at the UAB Heersink School of Medicine. RHeffron Headshot January 2022

Heffron received her Ph.D. in Epidemiology at the University of Washington. She currently serves as an associate professor in the Department of Global Health and the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Washington. 

Heffron is also the associate director for Mentoring within the International Clinical Research Center and director of the Developmental Core within the University of Washington Center for AIDS Research. Her research, teaching, and mentoring are dedicated to advancing the field of HIV prevention, often by leveraging intersections with reproductive health. 

On joining the Heersink School of Medicine, Heffron said, “I am extremely excited to join the UAB community and be in a position to bring the community together and to support the impactful HIV research being conducted. As I’ve gotten to know the people and work going on, I am really looking forward to opportunities to partner on HIV research in Alabama and the region and to participate in the momentum of global health work that has been growing.”

Currently, her research portfolio is focused on daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and novel PrEP agents for HIV prevention, utilizing research methods from clinical epidemiology and clinical trial design, implementation science, causal inference, behavioral science, and qualitative research. 

The conduct of this work also exemplifies Heffron’s core values: bringing a diverse set of voices to the conversation, promoting equity and inclusion, and commitment to principles of anti-racism and decolonization.

Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS, dean of the UAB Heersink School of Medicine, CEO of the UAB Health System and CEO of the UAB/Ascension St. Vincent’s Alliance, welcomed Heffron, “Dr. Heffron comes to UAB with a wealth of knowledge and an excitement to grow the footprint of our Center for AIDS Research. She will continue to build on its well-established success while developing a vision to take it to the next level of excellence.”

A special thanks to Jeanne Marrazzo, M.D., director of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and Latesha Elopre, M.D., associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and assistant dean for Medical Education Diversity and Inclusion, who served as co-chairs for the search committee.

Christopher Brown, Ph.D., vice president of Research, expressed his confidence in Heffron and CFAR’s role in research growth, saying “UAB’s research enterprise is growing, and the CFAR is part of this success. I am confident Dr. Heffron will forge new collaborations while building upon the success already underway within the center.”

Heffron will be taking over the reins from Michael Saag, M.D., who retired from UAB last year, but still continues to see patients both at UAB and the 1917 Clinic. Saag has served the UAB community as an internationally renowned physician, researcher, and even as a patient as he helped guide Alabama and the rest of the country through COVID-19.

“I am confident Dr. Heffron will bring the expertise and leadership needed to our exceptional Center for AIDS Research as our research enterprise moves into the next phase of excellence. I hope you’ll join me in welcoming Dr. Heffron not only to UAB but to our Birmingham community,” said Saag.

Heffron will assume the role of director on July 1, 2022.