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Appointment of Chair of Pharmacology and Toxicology

March 16, 2022

TO:All Faculty, Staff and Students

FROM:Dr. LouAnn Woodward, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs

SUBJECT: Appointment of Chair of Pharmacology and Toxicology

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Birdie “Babbette” LaMarca, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, has been named chair of the department, effective April 1.

Babbette LaMarcaDr. LaMarca started her service as interim chair July 1, 2021 and will continue the work she has done. This includes managing all aspects of the department, working closely with pharmacology and toxicology faculty to maintain its standard of excellence and support of the Medical Center’s strategic goals.

Dr. LaMarca is a preeminent example of the work UMMC does to grow our own leaders to create a healthier Mississippi. A Clinton native, she earned her Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology at the Medical Center in 2004. She was a postdoctoral fellow in physiology and biophysics and joined the faculty in 2005 as an instructor in that department. She became an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in 2008 and joined the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology as her primary appointment as an associate professor in 2011. She became a full professor in 2015.

She served as director of basic science research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology from 2009-13 and has served as the thesis director for the department’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowship since 2007.  Dr. LaMarca has served as chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology’s Promotion-Tenure Committee, Faculty Mentoring Program and Faculty Recruitment Committee since 2016. She is a clinical research mentor for the Center for Excellence in Perinatal Research and a member of the Women’s Health Research Center at UMMC.

Dr. LaMarca’s research focuses on immune mechanisms causing preeclampsia and low birth weight. Her laboratory uses basic and translational research methods to study the role of autoantibodies in the development of maternal hypertension. In addition, her research uses this work to find targets for new drugs that may someday treat preeclampsia. The National Institutes of Health has continuously funded her work since 2005, including an R01 grant funded since 2011 to study the kidneys, hypertension, pregnancy and inflammation.

She has received numerous awards, including the 2021 A. Clifford Barger Underrepresented Minority Mentorship Award and the 2015 Bowditch Lecturer from the American Physiology Society. At UMMC, she earned the Excellence in Research Awards gold medallion in 2013.

Dr. LaMarca is a member of professional organizations such as the American Physiological Society. Since 2012, she has been a fellow of the American Heart Association and serves as a basic science councilor for the Perinatal Research Society for the 2017-2022 term. Her professional service history includes multiple journal editorial boards, guest editor positions and associate editor of the journal Hypertension in Pregnancy. She served as peer reviewer for the NIH Hypertension Microcirculation and Pregnancy and Neonatology Study Sections and panels on obstetric and pediatric potential therapeutics.

She has authored more than 120 peer-reviewed publications, more than 165 abstracts and three book chapters, and coedited the 2019 edition of Sex Differences in Cardiovascular Physiology and Pathophysiology. She has mentored 50 trainees including Base Pair participants, undergraduate, graduate and medical students, postdoctoral fellows and maternal fetal medicine fellows. Several of these trainees have gone on to become faculty members in research and clinical-focused role at UMMC and elsewhere in the United States.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. LaMarca in her new role.

Thank you.