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Appointment of New Interim Chair of Pharmacology and Toxicology

May 25, 2021

TO:All Faculty, Staff and Students

FROM:Dr. LouAnn Woodward, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine

SUBJECT: Appointment of New Interim Chair of Pharmacology and Toxicology


I am pleased to announce that Dr. Birdie “Babbette” LaMarca, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, has agreed to serve as interim chair of the department, effective July 1.

She will succeed Dr. Richard J. Roman, who has served admirably as chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology since 2009. Dr. Roman, a Billy S. Guyton Distinguished Professor, will remain with the department as professor. I am very grateful for his many years of service as chair. His leadership has fostered a thriving basic science department.

As interim chair, Dr. LaMarca will manage 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.

A Clinton native and a graduate of Mississippi College, Dr. LaMarca earned her Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology in 2004 at UMMC. She performed her postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Physiology. She joined the Medical Center faculty in 2005 as an instructor in physiology and biophysics and became an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in 2008. She was promoted to associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and physiology in 2011 and to professor of pharmacology, physiology and obstetrics and gynecology in 2016.

During her tenure she has 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 Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellowship Program in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology 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 serves as the clinical research mentor for the Center for Excellence in Perinatal Research and is an active member of the Women’s Health Research Center housed in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology.

Dr. LaMarca is an active member of several professional organizations such as the American Physiological Society, and is a fellow of the American Heart Association. She is the outgoing basic science counselor for the prestigious Perinatal Research Society. She serves on various editorial boards and as associate editor of the journal Hypertension in Pregnancy; guest editor for Clinical Science, Reproductive Physiology and Disease, and Frontier in Physiology; and previous guest editor for the American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

She has served as peer reviewer for the National Institute of Health Hypertension Microcirculation and Pregnancy and Neonatology Study Sections and special emphasis panels “Pediatric and Obstetrics Pharmacology and Therapeutics” and “Molecular Targets for Pregnancy-related Disorders.”

In the last 17 years, she has authored more than 120 peer-reviewed publications, more than 165 abstracts and three book chapters, and recently coedited the 2019 edition of Sex Differences in Cardiovascular Physiology and Pathophysiology. She has mentored 48 trainees consisting of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and maternal fetal medicine fellows.

Dr. LaMarca has received numerous awards, including the 2015 Bowditch Lecturer and the 2021 A. Clifford Barger Underrepresented Minority Mentorship Award from the American Physiology Society. She has obtained more than $5 million in support for her and her trainees’ research projects from various institutes and has been funded continuously by the NIH since 2005. Her research interests are centered on immune mechanisms causing hypertension and low birth weight during pregnancy. 

Please join me in congratulating Dr. LaMarca in her new role and in thanking Dr. Roman for his many years of leadership in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.