Prominent physician-researcher Marla J. Keller, M.D., has been named the director of the Harold and Muriel Block Institute for Translational and Clinical Research at Einstein and Montefiore (ICTR), which is funded by the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Keller will also become the principal investigator on Einstein’s CTSA grant. She has served as associate director of the institute since 2016 and as co-PI of the CTSA since 2015. Dr. Keller is professor of medicine and of obstetrics & gynecology and women’s health at Einstein, vice chair for research in the department of medicine at Einstein and Montefiore Health System, and an infectious disease specialist at Montefiore.
Dr. Keller has been an important leader within the ICTR from its beginning. She first served as director of the Clinical Investigation Services Core and Clinical Research Center. In that position she worked with Harry Shamoon, M.D., the former director of the ICTR and former senior associate dean for clinical and translational research, and Paul Marantz, M.D., associate dean for clinical research education and associate director of the ICTR, to advance Montefiore and Einstein’s role as part of the CTSA member consortium, which includes more than 50 institutions and whose aim is to advance knowledge, discovery, and innovation to improve human health for diverse populations in the Bronx and across our nation.
Dr. Keller has proven her leadership capabilities through a variety of roles at Einstein and Montefiore. As vice chair for research, she is increasing the medicine department’s clinical trial portfolio, fostering translational research in collaboration with the department’s division leaders, mentoring junior faculty, assisting in the recruitment of physician-scientists and clinical investigators, and developing interdepartmental research collaboration.
As a physician, Dr. Keller specializes in infectious diseases, with research interests in the prevention and treatment of HIV and herpes in adult and adolescent women. She is a leader in the design and conduct of early-phase clinical trials to assess the safety and pharmacokinetics of vaginal microbicides in development to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV and herpes.
She also conducts studies to examine the effects of bacterial vaginosis, herpes, and HIV on female genital tract immunity and the vaginal microbiome. She is co-investigator of the Bronx Clinical Research Site of the NIH-funded Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) and Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) Combined Cohort Study (CCS) as well. Her work with the MACS/WIHS-CCS focuses on improving cervical cancer screening practices in women living with HIV.
Since the spring of 2020, Dr. Keller has been leading the COVID-19 Treatment Taskforce for the department of medicine to provide guidance on therapeutic management of patients with COVID-19. She is co-investigator on COVID-19 therapeutic trials and studies to understand immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection in adult and pediatric patients.
Dr. Keller holds numerous local and national leadership positions. She is a member and a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, a member of the HIV Medical Association, and a scientific member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents Living with HIV. She also serves as a scientific member on the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel established by Dr. Anthony Fauci in the spring of 2020.