Karen E. Mark, MD, PhD, was appointed Chief of the Office of AIDS (OA) in the Center for Infectious Diseases, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in June 2013. Dr. Mark’s background, experience, skills, and interests prepared her well to accept the Chief of OA appointment. She has devoted her professional career to improving the lives of people with and at risk for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) through her work as a doctor, epidemiologist, public health professional, researcher, and teacher.
Dr. Mark completed her medical training at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), her internal medicine residency at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, and her infectious diseases fellowship, Master of Public Health, and PhD in epidemiology at the University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Mark spent a year working on a HIV prevention research project in Lusaka, Zambia, Africa from 1996–1997, a time when one of every three adults living in the city was infected with HIV and no effective treatment was available. This experience led to a career devoted to working in HIV and STDs at the intersection between clinical medicine and public health.
Dr. Mark spent two years with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer assigned to the Division of STD and Hepatitis Prevention in San Diego County and several years as a faculty member at the University of Washington, where she studied another chronic, treatable, but incurable viral STD (genital herpes) and was the Clinic Director of the Seattle HIV Vaccine Trials Unit, where volunteers participate in HIV vaccine studies with the goal of finding a safe and effective HIV vaccine.
Wanting to refocus her work on HIV/AIDS and public health, Dr. Mark joined the Office of AIDS in January 2010 as Chief of the Surveillance, Research, and Evaluation Branch, where her work focused on improving HIV surveillance in California and using HIV surveillance data and Care and Prevention program evaluation data to improve HIV care, treatment, and prevention in California. She became Interim Chief of OA in September 2011. Throughout her career Dr. Mark has continued to see patients with HIV/AIDS one half day per week, first at the University of California, San Diego Owen Clinic, then at the Madison Clinic in Seattle, and most recently at the CARES clinic in Sacramento.