Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine (Division of Infectious Diseases) and Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women’s Health
Marla Keller, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine (Division of Infectious Diseases) and Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women’s Health, is a recipient of a pilot grant from the Global Health Center.
Dr. Keller conducts investigator-initiated clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of microbicides, drugs in development for vaginal or rectal application to prevent the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus and other sexually transmitted infections. Her studies also focus on defining the factors that contribute to innate mucosal immunity in the female genital tract.
Her pilot project was designed to determine if genital tract secretions collected from Rwandan women provide activity against bacteria and virus in the laboratory, if endogenous antimicrobial activity differs between HIV-infected and uninfected women, and if there is a difference in activity between women receiving hormonal contraception compared to women who are naturally cycling. Defining and characterizing this activity in different populations may lead to the identification of innate factors that could be exploited to augment host defense. Moreover, this activity may serve as a biomarker of a healthy genital tract mucosal environment and could be developed as a bioassay to evaluate the safety of microbicides in future clinical trials.