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Rebecca M. Brotman, PhD, MPH

Academic Title:


Primary Appointment:

Epidemiology & Public Health


Institute for Genome Sciences, Health Sciences Facility III, 670 West Baltimore St, Baltimore 21201

Phone (Primary):




Education and Training



B.A., Washington University                      

St. Louis, MO                                       



M.P.H., Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Focus: Reproductive Epidemiology

Baltimore, MD



Ph.D.,  Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Department of Epidemiology; Infectious Diseases Program

Baltimore, MD


Post Graduate Education and Training                

2005 - 2007                

Predoctoral fellow, Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA)

Longitudinal Study of Vaginal Flora

National Institutes of Health

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research (DESPR)

Rockville, MD


2007 - 2008                

Postdoctoral fellow, Institute for Genome Sciences

University of Maryland School of Medicine

Baltimore, MD


Academic Appointments     

2020 - present


University of Maryland School of Medicine                         

Department of Epidemiology and Public Health

Institute for Genome Sciences


2016 - 2020            

Associate Professor          

University of Maryland School of Medicine                         

Department of Epidemiology and Public Health

Institute for Genome Sciences


2008 - 2016                

Assistant Professor

University of Maryland School of Medicine                         

Department of Epidemiology and Public Health

Institute for Genome Sciences


2014 - present            

Full Member, Population Research Program

University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center 

Highlighted Publications

1. Stekler J, Bachmann L, Brotman RM, Erbelding EJ, Lloyd LV, Rietmeijer CA, Handsfield HH, Holmes KK, Golden MR: Concurrent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in sex partners of patients with selected STIs: implications for patient-delivered partner therapy. Clin Infect Dis 40:787-793, 2005. PMCID: N/A.
2. Klebanoff MA, Andrews WW, Yu KF, Brotman RM, Nansel TR, Zhang J, Cliver SP, Schwebke JR: A pilot study of vaginal flora changes with randomization to cessation of douching. Sex Transm Dis 33:610-613, 2006. PMCID: N/A.
3. Brotman RM, Erbelding EJ, Jamshidi RM, Klebanoff MA, Zenilman JM, Ghanem KG: Findings Associated with Recurrence of Bacterial Vaginosis among Adolescents Attending Sexually Transmitted Diseases Clinics. Journal of pediatric and adolescent gynecology 20:225-231, 2007. PMCID: PMC3647449.
4. Brotman RM, Klebanoff MA, Nansel T, Zhang J, Schwebke JR, Yu KF, Zenilman JM, Andrews WW: Why Do Women Douche? A Longitudinal Study with Two Analytic Approaches. Ann Epidemiol 18:65-73, 2008. PMCID: N/A.
5. Brotman RM, Ghanem KG, Klebanoff MA, Taha TE, Scharfstein DO, Zenilman JM: The effect of vaginal douching cessation on bacterial vaginosis: a pilot study. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. 2008 Jun;198(6):628.e1-7. PMCID: PMC2494605.
6. Brotman RM, Klebanoff MA, Nansel TR, Andrews WW, Schwebke JR, Zhang J, Yu KF, Zenilman JM, Scharfstein DO. A longitudinal study of vaginal douching and bacterial vaginosis — A marginal structural modeling analysis. Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Jul 15;168(2):188-96. PMCID: PMC2574994.
7. Brotman RM, Ravel J. [Invited Commentary] Ready or not: The molecular diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis. Clin Infect Dis. 2008 Jul 1;47(1):44-6. PMCID: N/A.
8. Rifkin SB, Smith MR, Brotman RM, Gindi RM, Erbelding EJ: Hormonal contraception and risk of bacterial vaginosis diagnosis in an observational study of women attending STD clinics in Baltimore, MD. Contraception 80:63-67, 2009. PMCID: N/A.
9. Klebanoff MA, Nansel TR, Brotman RM, Zhang J, Yu K, Schwebke JR, Andrews WW. Personal hygienic behaviors and bacterial vaginosis, Sex Transm Dis, 2010 Feb;37(2):94-9. PMCID: PMC2811217.
10. Klebanoff MA, Andrews WW, Zhang J, Brotman RM, Nansel TR, Yu K, Schwebke JR. Race of male sexual partners and occurrence of bacterial vaginosis, Sex Transm Dis. 2010 Mar;37(3):184-190. PMCID: PMC2828507.
11. Brotman RM, Melendez JH, Smith TD, Galai N, Zenilman JM. Effect of Menses on Clearance of Y-Chromosome in Vaginal Fluid: Implications for a Biomarker of Recent Sexual Activity, Sex Transm Dis, 37(1):1-4, 2010. PMCID: PMC3551347.
12. Forney LJ, Gajer P, Williams CJ, Schneider GM, Koenig SS, McCulle SL, Karlebach S, Brotman RM, Davis CC, Ault K, Ravel J: Comparison of self-collected and physician-collected vaginal swabs for microbiome analysis. J Clin Microbiol 48:1741-1748, 2010. PMCID: PMC2863907.
13. Brotman RM, Ravel J, Cone RA, Zenilman JM: Rapid fluctuation of the vaginal microbiota measured by Gram stain analysis. Sex Transm Infect 86:297-302, 2010 PMCID: PMC3534767.
14. Ravel J, Gajer P, Abdo Z, Schneider GM, Koenig SS, McCulle SL, Karlebach S, Gorle R, Russell J, Tacket CO, Brotman RM, Davis CC, Ault K, Peralta L, Forney LJ: Vaginal microbiome of reproductive-age women. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108 Suppl 1:4680-4687, 2011. PMCID: PMC3063603.
15. Brotman RM, Klebanoff MA, Nansel TR, Yu KF, Andrews WW, Zhang J, Schwebke JR: Bacterial vaginosis assessed by gram stain and diminished colonization resistance to incident gonococcal, chlamydial, and trichomonal genital infection. J Infect Dis 202:1907-1915, 2010. PMCID: PMC3053135.
16. Zhou X, Brotman RM, Gajer P, Abdo Z, Schuette U, Ma S, Ravel J, Forney LJ: Recent Advances in Understanding the Microbiology of the Female Reproductive Tract and the Causes of Premature Birth. Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics & Gynecology 2010:1-10, 2010. PMCID: PMC3004384.
17. Brotman RM, Melendez J, Ghanem KG: A case control study of anovaginal distance and bacterial vaginosis. Int J STD AIDS. 2011 Apr;22(4):231-3. PMCID: PMC3528012.
18. Brotman RM: Vaginal microbiome and sexually transmitted infections: an epidemiologic perspective. J Clin Invest 121:4610-4617, 2011. PMCID: PMC3225992.
19. Gajer P*, Brotman RM*, Bai G, Sakamoto J, Schutte UM, Zhong X, Koenig SS, Fu L, Ma ZS, Zhou X, Abdo Z, Forney LJ, Ravel J: Temporal dynamics of the human vaginal microbiota. Sci Transl Med 4:132ra52, 2012. *contributed equally as first author PMCID: PMC3722878.
20. Bai G, Gajer P, Nandy M, Ma B, Yang H, Sakamoto J, Blanchard MH, Ravel J, Brotman RM: Comparison of storage conditions for human vaginal microbiome studies. PLoS ONE 7:e36934, 2012. PMCID: PMC3360033.
21. Brotman RM, Bradford LL, Conrad M, Gajer P, Ault K, Peralta L, Forney LJ, Carlton JM, Abdo Z, Ravel J: Association Between Trichomonas vaginalis and Vaginal Bacterial Community Composition Among Reproductive-Age Women. Sex Transm Dis 2012; 39(10):807-812. PMCID: PMC3458234.
22. Liu S, Brotman RM, Zenilman JM, Gravitt PE, Cummings DAT: Menstrual Cycle and Detectable Human Papillomavirus in Reproductive Age Women: A Time Series Study. J Infect Dis. 2013 Nov; 208(9):1404-15. PMCID: PMC3789568.
23. Ravel J, Brotman RM, Gajer P, Ma B, Nandy M, Fadrosh DW, Sakamoto J, Koenig SS, Fu L, Zhou X, Hickey RJ, Schwebke JR, Forney LJ. Daily temporal dynamics of vaginal microbiota before, during and after episodes of bacterial vaginosis. Microbiome 2013;1:29. PMCID: PMC3968321.
24. Brotman RM, Shardell MD, Gajer P, Fadrosh D, Chang K, Silver M, Viscidi RP, Burke AE, Ravel J, Gravitt PG. Association between the vaginal microbiota, menopausal status, and vulvovaginal symptoms. Menopause. 2014 May;21(5):450-8. PMCID: PMC3994184.
25. Brotman RM, Ravel J, Bavoil PM, Gravitt PE, Ghanem KG. Microbiome, Sex Hormones, and Immune Responses in the Reproductive Tract: Challenges for Vaccine Development Against Sexually Transmitted Infections. Vaccine. 2014 Mar 20;32(14):1543-52. PMCID: PMC3964794.
26. Liu S, Cummings D, Zenilman JM, Gravitt P, Brotman RM. Characterizing the Temporal Dynamics of Human Papillomavirus DNA Detectability Using Short-Interval Sampling. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014 Jan;23(1):200-8. PMCID: PMC3947138.
27. Fadrosh DW, Ma B, Gajer P, Sengamalay N, Ott S, Brotman RM, Ravel J. An improved dual-indexing approach for multiplexed 16S rRNA gene sequencing on the Illumina MiSeq platform. Microbiome 2014;2:6. PMCID: PMC3940169.
28. Brotman RM, Shardell MD, Gajer P, Tracy JK, Zenilman JM, Ravel J, Gravitt PE. Interplay between the temporal dynamics of the vaginal microbiota and human papillomavirus detection. J Infect Dis. 2014 Dec 1;210(11):1723-33. PMCID: PMC4296189.
29. Brotman RM, He X, Gajer P, Fadrosh D, Mongodin EF, Ravel J, Glover ED, Rath JM. Association between cigarette smoking and the vaginal microbiota: A Pilot study. BMC Infect Dis. 2014 Aug 28;14:471. PMCID: PMC4161850.
30. Huttenhower C, Knight R, Brown CT, Caporaso JG, Clemente JC, Gevers D, Franzosa EA, Kelley ST, Knights D, Ley RE, Mahurkar A, Ravel J, The Scientists for Advancement of Microbiome Research*, and White O. Advancing the Microbiome Research Community. Cell 2014, 159(2):227-230. PMCID: PMC4221798. *listed in consortium.
31. Dareng EO, Ma B , Famooto AO , Akarolo-Anthony SN, Offiong RA, Olaniyan O, Dakum PS , Wheeler CM, Fadrosh D, Yang H, Gajer P, Brotman RM, Ravel J, Adebamowo CA. Prevalent high-risk HPV infection and vaginal microbiota in Nigerian women. Epidemiol Infect 2016 Jan;144(1):123-37. PMCID: PMC4659743.
32. Bradshaw CS, Brotman RM. Making inroads into improving treatment of bacterial vaginosis - striving for long-term cure. BMC Infect Dis 2015, 15(1):292. PMCID: PMC4518586.
33. Nelson TM, Borgogna JL, Brotman RM, Ravel J, Walk ST, Yeoman CJ: Vaginal biogenic amines: biomarkers of bacterial vaginosis or precursors to vaginal dysbiosis? Frontiers in physiology 2015, 6:253. PMCID: PMC4586437.
34. Ravel J, Brotman RM. Translating the vaginal microbiome: gaps and challenges. Genome Med. 2016 Apr 1;8(1):35. PMCID: PMC4818402.
35. Robinson CK, Brotman RM, Ravel J. Intricacies of assessing the human microbiome in epidemiologic studies. Ann Epidemiol 2016, 26(5):311-321. PMCID: PMC4892937.
36. Kenyon CR, Buyze J, Klebanoff MA, Brotman RM. Association between incident bacterial vaginosis and partner concurrency: a longitudinal study. Sex Trans Infec. 2016;0:1–3. Epub ahead of print. PMCID: PMC5429208.
37. Kenyon CR, Buyze J, Klebanoff M, Brotman RM. Incident Trichomonas vaginalis Is Associated With Partnership Concurrency: A Longitudinal Cohort Study. Sex Transm Dis 2017, 44(11):695-699. PMCID: PMC5662133.
38. Bavoil PM, Marques PX, Brotman R, Ravel J. Does Active Oral Sex Contribute to Female Infertility? J Infect Dis 2017, 216(8):932-935. PMCID: PMC5789812.
39. Nelson TM, Borgogna JC, Michalek RD, Roberts DW, Rath JM, Glover ED, Ravel J, Shardell MD, Yeoman CJ, Brotman RM. Cigarette smoking is associated with an altered vaginal tract metabolomic profile. Nature Scientific Reports 2018, 8(1):852. PMCID: PMC5770521.
40. Nowak RG, Randis TM, Desai P, He X, Robinson CK, Rath JM, Glover ED, Ratner AJ, Ravel J, Brotman RM. Higher Levels of a Cytotoxic Protein, Vaginolysin, in Lactobacillus-Deficient Community State Types at the Vaginal Mucosa. Sex Transm Dis 2018, 45(4):e14-e17. PMCID: PMC5847449.
41. Kenyon C, Buyze J, Klebanoff M, Brotman RM. The role of sexual networks in studies of how BV and STIs increase the risk of subsequent reinfection. Epidemiol Infect 2018:1-7. PMCID: PMC6452990.
42. Geller RJ, Brotman RM, O'Brien KM, Fine DM, Zota AR. Phthalate Exposure and Odds of Bacterial Vaginosis Among U.S. Reproductive-Aged Women, NHANES 2001-2004. Reprod Toxicol 2018. PMCID: PMC6310056.
43. Klebanoff MA, Brotman RM: Treatment of bacterial vaginosis to prevent preterm birth. Lancet 2018, 392(10160):2141-2142.
44. Kenyon CR, Delva W, Brotman RM: Differential sexual network connectivity offers a parsimonious explanation for population-level variations in the prevalence of bacterial vaginosis: a data-driven, model-supported hypothesis. BMC Womens Health 2019, 19(1):8. PMCID: PMC6327541.
45. Turpin R, Brotman RM, Klebanoff MA, Miller RS, He X, Slopen N. Perceived stress and incident sexually transmitted infections in a prospective cohort study. Annals of Epidemiology, 2019 Apr;32:20-27. PMCID: PMC6446572.
46. Holm JB, Humphrys MS, Robinson CK, Settles ML, Ott S, Fu L, Yang H, Gajer P, He X, Gravitt PE, Brotman RM, Ravel J. Ultra-high throughput multiplexing and sequencing of long amplicon regions on the Illumina HiSeq 2500 platform. mSystems 2019, 4(1). PMCID: PMC6381223.
47. Crowder HR, Brown SE, Stennett CA, Johnston E, Wnorowski AM, Mark KS, Brotman RM. Patterns in On-time, Daily Submission of a Short Web-Based Personal Behavior Survey in a Longitudinal Women's Health Study. Sex Transm Dis 2019, 46(8):e80-e82. PMCID: PMC6636342.
48. Edwards VL, Smith SB, McComb EJ, Tamarelle J, Ma B, Humphrys MS, Gajer P, Gwilliam K, Schaefer AM, Lai SK, Terplan M, Mark KS, Brotman RM, Forney LJ, Bavoil PM, Ravel J: The Cervicovaginal Microbiota-Host Interaction Modulates Chlamydia trachomatis Infection. mBio 2019, 10(4). PMCID: PMC6692509.
49. Mark KS, Brotman RM, Martinez-Greiwe S, Terplan M, Bavoil P, Ravel J: Chlamydia in adolescent/adult reproductive management trial study (CHARM): Clinical core protocol. Contemp Clin Trials Commun 2019, 16:100414. PMCID: PMC6804429.
50. Brown SE, Schwartz JA, Robinson CK, O'Hanlon DE, Bradford LL, He X, Mark KS, Bruno VM, Ravel J, Brotman RM: The Vaginal Microbiota and Behavioral Factors Associated With Genital Candida albicans Detection in Reproductive-Age Women. Sex Transm Dis 2019, 46(11):753-758. PMCID: PMC6818707.
51. Wilkinson EM, Laniewski P, Herbst-Kralovetz MM, Brotman RM: Personal and Clinical Vaginal Lubricants: Impact on Local Vaginal Microenvironment and Implications for Epithelial Cell Host Response and Barrier Function. J Infect Dis 2019, 220 (12):2009-2018. PMCID: PMC6834067.
52. Powell A, Ghanem KG, Rogers L, Zinalabedini A, Brotman RM, Zenilman J, Tuddenham S: Clinicians' Use of Intravaginal Boric Acid Maintenance Therapy for Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis and Bacterial Vaginosis. Sex Transm Dis 2019, 46(12):810-812. PMCID: PMC6878170.
53. Tuddenham S, Ghanem KG, Caulfield LE, Rovner AJ, Robinson CR, Shivakoti R, Miller RS, Burke A, Murphy C, Ravel J, Brotman RM. Associations between dietary micronutrient intake and molecular-Bacterial vaginosis. Reprod Health 2019, 16(1):151. PMCID: PMC6806504.
54. Tamarelle J, Ma B, Gajer P, Humphrys MS, Terplan M, Mark KS, Thiebaut ACM, Forney LJ, Brotman RM, Delarocque-Astagneau E et al: Nonoptimal Vaginal Microbiota After Azithromycin Treatment for Chlamydia trachomatis Infection. J Infect Dis 2020, 221(4):627-635.
55. Thoma ME, Brotman RM, Gray RH, Sewankambo NK, Wawer MJ: Risk and protective factors associated with BV chronicity among women in Rakai, Uganda. Sex Transm Infect 2019.
56. Borgogna JC, Shardell MD, Santori EK, Nelson TM, Rath JM, Glover ED, Ravel J, Gravitt PE, Yeoman CJ, Brotman RM: The vaginal metabolome and microbiota of cervical HPV-positive and HPV-negative women: a cross-sectional analysis. BJOG 2020, 127(2):182-192. PMCID: PMC6982399.
57. Mark KM, Tenorio B, Stennett C, Ghanem KG, Brotman RM. Bacterial vaginosis diagnosis and treatment in postmenopausal women: a survey of clinician practices. Menopause, 2020 Mar 2.
58. Ma B, France M, Crabtree J, Holm J, Humphrys M, Brotman RM, Ravel J. VIRGO, a comprehensive non-redundant gene catalog, reveals extensive within community intraspecies diversity in the human vagina. Nature Comm, 2020 Feb 26;11(1):940. PMCID: PMC7044274.
59. Stennett CA, Dyer TV, He X, Robinson CK, Ravel J, Ghanem KG, Brotman RM. A cross-sectional pilot study of birth mode and vaginal microbiota in reproductive-age women. PLOS ONE’s Special Collection “The Microbiome Across Biological Systems, 2020 Apr 1;15(4):e0228574. PMCID: PMC7112195.
60. Shivakoti R, Tuddenham S, Caulfield LE, Murphy C, Robinson C, Ravel J, Ghanem KG, Brotman RM: Dietary macronutrient intake and molecular-bacterial vaginosis: Role of fiber. Clin Nutr, 2020 Jan 29. PMCID: PMC6265110.
61. Borgogna JC, Shardell MD, Santori EK, Nelson TM, Rath JM, Glover ED, Ravel J, Gravitt PE, Yeoman CJ, Brotman RM. Authors' reply re: The vaginal metabolome and microbiota of cervical HPV-positive and HPV-negative women: a cross-sectional analysis. BJOG, 2020 May;127(6):773-774.
62. Borgogna JLC, Shardell MD, Yeoman CJ, Ghanem KG, Kadriu H, Ulanov AV, Gaydos CA, Hardick J, Robinson CK, Bavoil PM, Ravel J, Brotman RM, Tuddenham S. The association of Chlamydia trachomatis and Mycoplasma genitalium infection with the vaginal metabolome, Nature Sci Rep, 2020 Feb 25;10(1):3420. PMCID: PMC7042340.
63. O’Hanlon DE, Gajer P, Brotman RM, Ravel J. Asymptomatic bacterial vaginosis is associated with depletion of mature superficial cells shed from the vaginal epithelium. Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol., 2020 Mar 10;10:106. PMCID: PMC7076050
64. Holm JB, France M, Ma B, McComb E, Robinson CK, Mehta A, Tallon LJ, Brotman RM, Ravel J. Comparative genome analysis of “Candidatus Lachnocurva vaginae”, formerly known as Bacterial Vaginosis Associated Bacteria – 1 (BVAB1), Frontiers Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 2020 Mar 31;10:117. PMCID: PMC7136613.

Research Interests

I am an infectious diseases epidemiologist who has integrated the study of genomics into public health research. Over the past 13 years, I have developed a research career in various aspects of the human microbiome with an emphasis on women's health. My research has ranged between the role of the vaginal microbiome in susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and the behavioral and biological factors associated with the development of bacterial vaginosis (BV). 

Awards and Affiliations

2001 - 2003                

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (T32)


2005 - 2007                

Intramural Research Training Award (NIH)



NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence (travel award)



American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association (ASTDA) Young Investigator Award



GenomeWeb Young Investigator Award



The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) New Investigator Award



The Infectious Diseases Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology Young Investigator Award



Best Paper Award, North American Menopause Society/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Menopause Journal

Grants and Contracts

Active grants


07/1/2018 – 06/30/2023          (Co-I, 10%)                                         PI: Trent, M

“Technology Enhanced Community Health Precision Nursing to Prevent Recurrent STIs”

NIH / NINR R01 NR013507


05/13/2016 – 02/28/2021        (Co-I, 5%)                                           PI: Ravel J and Forney LJ

“Elucidating causes of vaginal symptoms using a multi-omics approach”

NIH / NINR R01 NR015495


02/05/2016 – 01/31/2021        (PI, 35%)

“Lubricant Use and the Vaginal Microbiome”

NIH / NIAID R01-AI119012


05/01/2015 – 04/30/2021        (PI, 35%, NCE)                                      

“Longitudinal study of the vaginal microbiome prior to incident STI”

NIH / NIAID R01-AI116799


09/1/2014- 08/31/2020            (Co-I, 10%)                                         PI: Ravel J and Bavoil P

(NCE)   “Ecopathogenomics of sexually transmitted infections (EPSTI)”

Project 3: Genital microbiome-pathogen interactions in a sexual transmission network

Sexually Transmitted Infections Cooperative Research Centers, U19 (RFA-AI-13-043)

NIH / NIAID U19-AI084044