The National Institutes of Health has selected Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo as the new director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Marrazzo, who is currently the director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, succeeds Dr. Anthony Fauci as the nation’s top infectious disease expert. Fauci stepped down from his role last December after more than 50 years of government service. He had held the position since 1984.
Since his retirement, Dr. Hugh Auchincloss Jr. has been serving as acting director.
Marrazzo is expected to begin her role at NIAID in the fall, overseeing the institute’s $6.3 billion budget as well as its research and response to infectious disease outbreaks.
“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 NIH, said in a statement. “I look forward to welcoming Dr. Marrazzo to the NIH leadership team. I also want to extend my gratitude to Hugh Auchincloss, Jr., M.D., for serving as acting director of NIAID after longtime director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., stepped down in December 2022.”
The NIH said Marrazzo’s research has focused specifically on sexually transmitted diseases and the prevention of HIV infection. Science reported that the 61-year-old will be the first openly gay director of an NIH institute.
She was the recipient of the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association’s Distinguished Career Award, the highest recognition of contributions to research and mentoring in the field.
In addition, Marrazzo has been a principal investigator on NIH grants continuously since 1997 and has served frequently as a peer reviewer and advisory committee member.
She is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and is board certified in infectious disease.
Marrazzo also has chaired the American Board of Internal Medicine Council, and the ABIM Infectious Disease Specialty Board.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Harvard University, an M.D. from Thomas Jefferson University and a master of public health in epidemiology from the University of Washington.
Marrazzo declined to be interviewed until she’s officially at NIH.
Fauci told The Washington Post he did not have a close relationship with Marrazzo and was not involved in her selection, but applauded the search committee.
“She’s an experienced infectious-disease person; she’s very well-liked,” he told the outlet.
“Sometimes, my sticking with data and facts generated a lot of antagonism on the part of people with extreme views,” Fauci said. “She will likely face that.… I believe she will be up to it as long as she stays anchored in science and evidence, and in keeping an open mind.”
Dr. Carlos del Rio, interim dean of the Emory University School of Medicine and president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said in a release that Marrazzo is an “exceptional infectious diseases physician, leader, mentor and scientist” and that the society looks forward to working with her.
Reaction to the appointment on social media has been varied.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.