“At Beth Israel in Boston I met people in the hospital and clinic who taught me so much about medicine and life. Here was this devastating illness, AIDS, that nobody really understood, but there was also a tremendous need and opportunity to help fight a baffling disease.”
“LEADER IN AIDS RESEARCH AND COMMUNITY EDUCATION”
When Judith Currier graduated from Bowdoin College, she was uncertain of a career. Social worker, lab researcher, nurse practitioner, and physician, all interested her. She took time off after college to work at various jobs, including a six week stint helping rural health care providers in northern New Hampshire that convinced her that medicine would be her calling and that she would become a primary care physician.
"It was a wonderful way to combine science, which I loved, and helping people," she recalled.
In the mid-1980s, several years after earning her M.D. from Dartmouth Medical School and during her residency at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, she began to see first hand the devastating affects of a new and little understood disease--AIDS. "Nobody knew what to do. I was working with all these really smart people but here was a new problem that baffled them. There was an urgent need to help people, and it was just an incredible opportunity to learn and then teach others how to fight this illness," she said.
It has been Currier's work on AIDS that led Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA-30) to nominate her as a Local Legend, especially the widespread improvements she has made on the awareness and treatment of women afflicted with the deadly HIV virus. She is Director of the Clinical Trials Unit for the Center for Clinical AIDS Research and Education at the UCLA Medical Center, and Co-Director of the UCLA CARE Center, which offers students from educationally or socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds hands-on apprenticeships in scientific research.
Certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, Currier has written several influential articles on her specialty, including The Female Face of AIDS: Preventing HIV Infections in Women (co-authored with Debra Johnson and Lorraine Sa). AIDS research and education remains the focal point of her medical life. "It's an endlessly fascinating field," she says. "As treatment has gotten better, we've started to see a need to study and understand the complications related to multiple treatments. And there remains a huge need to study the disease and its treatment internationally, especially in resource-limited areas like Africa."
"Those of us working on AIDS now are really in the second wave. We're trying now to understand the role gender plays in treatment; the sex differences between women affected with HIV and men, and how treatments differ for women, both in levels of toxicity and their reaction to them."
Thanks in part to Currier's work, HIV-AIDS research, which was initially largely centered on men, has expanded to bring treatment for women to the fore. In addition to her clinical research, Currier continues a long-standing devotion toward community outreach and education programs that empower women to both understand and fight against AIDS.
Appointed clinical director for AIDS, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston
Appointed Medical Director, Rand Schrader 5P21 AIDS Clinic, Los Angeles County, University of Southern California Medical Center
Appointed Director, Clinical Trials Unit, Center for Clinical AIDS Research and Education, UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
Dartmouth Medical School