UAB Division of Infectious Diseases taps new leadership

Researcher focused on HIV and STD prevention in women will lead UAB School of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases.

jeanne marrazzoJeanne Marrazzo, M.D., MPH, a leading researcher in HIV and sexually transmitted infections, has been named director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases.

“I am thrilled to have Dr. Marrazzo join our department to lead the division at a time when it is thriving,” said Seth Landefeld, M.D., chair of the UAB Department of Medicine. “Despite great advances in vaccines and antibiotics, infectious diseases remain major threats to our health — whether it’s the age-old scourge of tuberculosis, a super-virulent staph or a new epidemic like Zika virus. Tackling these diseases and growing our faculty of world leaders will advance health and health care for Alabamians and many, many others.”  

Marrazzo looks to build relationships and strong interactions between basic sciences, epidemiology and biostatistics, and clinical science within the Division of Infectious Diseases to collaborate on research and expand opportunities in finding new methods for preventing and managing common diseases.

“As the director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UAB, I look forward to fulfilling two of my lifelong passions: fostering interdisciplinary collaborative research and mentoring young and mid-career faculty,” Marrazzo said.

With a continued need for research focusing on emerging infectious diseases and tough competition for funding, Marrazzo plans to mentor and guide the next generation of researchers to accomplish their goals.

“UAB has been a leader in HIV and STD research for decades with a well-recognized reputation and body of work,” Marrazzo said. “For example, the 1917 Clinic, which provides primary care to people living with HIV and also conducts world-class research, is iconic and a fixture of excellence in providing care to vulnerable populations, which is critical part of working in the infectious diseases field.”

Marrazzo is also excited to be working in a part of the country that has significant morbidity related to infectious diseases. “The need for applied research — that is, designing and studying the delivery of interventions to enhance the health of communities and populations — is keen given the health indicators. This is especially true for vulnerable populations at risk for HIV and other infectious diseases.”

Currently, Marrazzo’s research that she brings to UAB includes:

  • A focus on the human microbiome, specifically in the genital tract, funded by the National Institutes of Health. This will include studying the effects of a vaginal contraceptive ring, Nuvaring, in the vaginal environment of young women with and without HIV who want to initiate contraception in Kenya, and a similar study in the U.S.;
  • National Institutes of Health-funded study evaluating vaginal rings that provide both contraception and protection from HIV and genital herpes;
  • Research evaluating the effect of a microbicide to protect against genital herpes (NIH); and
  • Training of health care providers in the management of STIs in HIV care settings funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Marrazzo most recently served as the medical director for the University of Washington STD/HIV Prevention Training Center, where she invested in delivering and evaluating educational offerings to providers in practice and to medical practitioners in training throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Most notably, Marrazzo’s research includes:

  • Biomedical prevention of HIV including topical delivery of antiretroviral drugs and oral pre-exposure prophylaxis for prevention of HIV infection in African women;
  • HIV-prevention methods combined with hormonal contraceptives in women to block infection at the cervix, where women are most vulnerable; and
  • Vaginal microbiome health for women and their infants, including infections around the time of delivery.

Marrazzo is the president of the Council of the American Board of Internal Medicine. She also serves as president of the International Society for STD Research, an organization that brings together scientists from around the world addressing the entire range of the biomedical, behavioral and social sciences related to STDs.

After six years as division director, Edward Hook III, M.D., is stepping down to focus on his research efforts within sexually transmitted infections.

The Division of Infectious Diseases is involved in various activities relating to the traditional academic missions of education, patient care and research. The division consists of 43 full-time and three emeritus faculty, nine fellows, and 130 support staff.