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Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo was named on Wednesday to become the next head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a job most recently held by Dr. Anthony Fauci, well known for his work on HIV and the pandemic.
Marrazzo will start her new job in the fall. She is currently the director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“Dr. Marrazzo brings a wealth of leadership experience from leading international clinical trials and translational research, managing a complex organizational budget that includes research funding and mentoring trainees in all stages of professional development,” Dr. Lawrence Tabak, acting director for the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), said in an NIH news release. “I look forward to welcoming Dr. Marrazzo to the NIH leadership team.”
NIAID's role is in conducting and supporting research to better understand, treat and prevent infectious, immunologic and allergic diseases.
Marrazzo's background includes research on the human microbiome and its role in female reproductive tract infections and hormonal contraception, preventing HIV using biomedical interventions and management of bacterial vaginosis, sexually transmitted diseases in HIV-infected persons and management of antibiotic resistance in gonorrhea.
She has been a principal investigator on NIH grants since 1997. Marrazzo has also mentored countless trainees, including on NIH-funded training grants.
Her appointment was lauded by those in the medical community.
Fauci told CNN she was a “good person,” and would likely face big challenges at NIAID.
“What she's facing now is going to be a very complicated issue of a number of emerging diseases, a high degree of advanced technology that is really an important part of the research effort on infectious diseases. Also, she's going to be dealing with, you know, unfortunately, as we've seen over the last few years, a very divisive political setting, where there's been an unfortunate politicization of some of the science,” Fauci added.
Luckily, Marrazzo loves tough challenges, Dr. Carlos del Rio, interim dean of the Emory University School of Medicine and president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), told CNN.
“She's a remarkable physician, researcher and advocate,” del Rio said.
“She has a long history of work on sexually transmitted infections and on HIV prevention. And she is a great listener, a great person and has a superb personality. I mean, I'm just thrilled. She is an excellent person for this job,” said del Rio, who meets with Marrazzo regularly as part of the IDSA board.
Marrazzo received the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association's Distinguished Career Award, which is the highest recognition of contributions to research and mentoring in the field.
Her education includes a bachelor's degree in biology from Harvard University; a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Washington in Seattle, and an MD from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
The new director will oversee NIAID's $6.3 billion budget.
The agency has 21 labs, including the Vaccine Research Center on NIH's main campus in Bethesda, Md. It also responds to emerging public health threats in the United States and globally.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham has more on Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo.
SOURCES: U.S. National Institutes of Health, news release, Aug. 2, 2023; CNN
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