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Alumni Dispatches: Jill Huppert

Alumni Dispatches: Jill Huppert

Jill Huppert

MD, MPH '01

Improving STD Testing

After a satisfying clinical career in OB/GYN, I returned to school (at the age of 40!) to obtain my MPH at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. Instead of returning to a comfortable mix of private practice and academic medicine, I plunged into a two-year research fellowship at Cincinnati Children's Hospital in Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology in 2003. Since then, I have limited my clinical practice to pediatric and adolescent gynecology, and I have secured funding from private grant agencies, industry and the NIH, and I've successfully published my research findings.

My current research effort focuses on better detection of Trichomonas vaginalis— rapid, point-of-care STI tests and self-collected specimens, as well as the acceptability of self-testing for STIs in adolescent women. I am midway through a K-23 career development award. Since 2005, I have been involved with the CDC-funded Cincinnati STD/HIV Prevention Training Center (PTC).

Here's where the story gets interesting: In the fall of 2006, the Cincinnati PTC sent me to Springfield, Ill., to lecture on STDs in adolescents. At the Lincoln Presidential Library, I met up with Charlotte Gaydos, whom I remembered from my days at JHSPH. Over dinner, we began to discuss a new RFA that had just come out for point-of-care testing. I thought I was too junior to apply as PI; Charlotte had the experience, but wanted to add some adolescent data. There was a lot of writing back and forth, but the good news followed: In September 2007, we learned that she was awarded one of four POCT network grants. As a co-investigator on this grant, I will supervise studies on self-administered vaginal swab collection and testing for Trichomonas vaginalis and other POCT devices in clinical settings involving adolescent women in Cincinnati.

This is quite a thrill for me, to work closely with a wonderful mentor like Charlotte Gaydos, who shares my public health goal of making STD diagnosis simpler and closer to the patient—point-of-care or even over the counter. I couldn't have done it without my wonderful year at JHSPH.

Jill Huppert is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and OB/GYN at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Division of Adolescent Medicine.

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