WASHINGTON (AP) — A research scientist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham was named Wednesday to succeed Dr. Anthony Fauci as the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo will become director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the fall. She will oversee the agency’s $6.3 billion budget, its research and its response to infectious disease outbreaks.
Fauci, 82, retired from a five-decade career in December. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he became a household name as he gave updates at daily White House press conferences and in frequent media interviews.
Since Fauci’s retirement, Dr. Hugh Auchincloss Jr. has been serving as acting director.
Marrazzo’s research has focused on sexually transmitted diseases and the prevention of HIV infection. At the university, she is director of the medical school’s division of infectious diseases.
Her appointment was made by Lawrence Tabak, acting director for the National Institutes of Health … READ MORE.
“Marrazzo is an out lesbian, and as a researcher, educator, and speaker, she has advocated tirelessly for LGBTQ health equity.” – VOX
VOX – Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo’s career has been devoted to finding new ways to test for, prevent, and treat infections spread through sex. And her appointment comes as sexually transmitted infection rates — especially syphilis and gonorrhea — are screeching upward at an alarming pace, while funding to address them is being slashed at the federal level following contentious debt limit deal negotiations.
Her appointment has led to a rare moment of hope, and even jubilation, among experts in the field.
“For STIs, we need better therapeutics, vaccines, and point-of-care diagnostics,” said David Harvey, director of the National Coalition of STD Directors. “These are all things that Dr. Marrazzo happens to be an absolute expert at, and we’re very excited and hopeful that more resources will be put into these priorities.”
Although Marrazzo’s new role will give her a lot of power over the scientific community’s research priorities, it will also require her to tangle with political decision-makers who’ve often been overtly hostile to science. But even here there’s a sense that her forthright and sensitive communication style will be a strength, given her track record as a public commentator on a range of public health issues.
As the head of NIAID, Marrazzo will lead decisions on which scientific priorities deserve backing from the agency’s multi-billion dollar budget — and will be responsible for convincing Congress she’s made the right choices.
And if Fauci’s precedent stands, she may also play an important role helping the public navigate confusing moments in public health (and I’m sorry to say this, the next pandemic) … READ MORE.