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New Chief of Infectious Diseases Aims to Deliver for Patients

Ruanne Barnabas, MD

Profile in Medicine

New Chief of Infectious Diseases Aims to Deliver for Patients

Ruanne Barnabas, MD, the newly appointed Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Mass General, discusses her priorities and what innovations might be on the horizon for patients.

by
Paul Goldsmith
September 29, 2022

“This is an exhausting yet exciting time for our entire field,” says Ruanne Barnabas, MD, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital. “COVID-19 shattered so many paradigms that we have an opportunity to make a difference for patients like never before.”

A recognized global leader in HIV treatment and prevention, Dr. Barnabas is originally from South Africa and received her medical degree from the University of Cape Town. Prior to being appointed at Mass General in January 2022, she served as Professor of Global Health and Medicine at the University of Washington, where she specialized in novel approaches to increase access to services and interventions. We asked Dr. Barnabas about her priorities as chief and what innovations might be on the horizon for her division.

“One of my top priorities is ensuring our services and expertise are client-centered and easily accessible to everyone in the Mass General Brigham network. To innovate, we should be asking ourselves what works best for patients. How do we help people stay well while at the same time minimizing the burden? For example, self-screening was very successful during the pandemic. Think about how quickly we accustomed ourselves to performing COVID-19 tests at home. I believe we can expand self- screening to other disease areas, such as sexually transmitted infections, diabetes and certain cancers, like cervical or colon cancer.

In parallel, we can leverage technology and home delivery services to reach more people. By reaching patients where they are — whether it is through telemedicine or delivering medications and assessments — we can help people who may not otherwise have access to care, address disparities and identify the gaps in treatment. We are deeply connected as a global community, but it is the local community that enables us to make such an impact. By identifying gaps in treatment with the help of our community partners, we can quickly go back to the lab, develop interventions and tests and deliver them to the people who need them the most.”

To learn more about the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and how you can support patient-centered innovation, contact us