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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

  • Washington University, St. Louis, MO, BA, 1996
  • Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, MPH, Reproductive Epidemiology, 2001
  • Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, PhD, Department of Epidemiology Infectious Diseases Program, 2007
  • National Institutes of Health: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA)
    Longitudinal Study of Vaginal Flora, 2005-2007
  • Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research (DESPR), Predoctoral Fellow, Rockville, MD, 2005-2007
  • University of Maryland School of Medicine, Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Genome Sciences, 2007-2008


Dr. Brotman is an infectious diseases epidemiologist who has integrated the study of genomics into public health research. Over the past 13 years, she has developed a research career in various aspects of the human microbiome with an emphasis on urogenital health. Her 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). 

Research/Clinical Keywords

infectious diseases, genomics, public health research, human microbiome, urogenital health, vaginal microbiome in susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections, STIs, bacterial vaginosis, BV

Highlighted Publications

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Additional Publication Citations

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.

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.

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.

Klebanoff MA, Brotman RM: Treatment of bacterial vaginosis to prevent preterm birth. Lancet 2018, 392(10160):2141-2142.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Laniewski P, Owen KA, Khnanisho M, Brotman RM, Herbst-Kralovetz MM. Clinical and Personal Lubricants Impact the Growth of Vaginal Lactobacillus Species and Colonization of Vaginal Epithelial Cells: An in Vitro Study. Sex Transm Dis 2021, 48(1):63-70. PMCID: PMC8793461.

France MT, Ma B, Gajer P, Brown S, Humphrys MS, Holm JB, Waetjen LE, Brotman RM, Ravel J: VALENCIA: a nearest centroid classification method for vaginal microbial communities based on composition. Microbiome 2020, 8(1):166. PMCID: PMC7684964.

Turpin R, Tuddenham S, He X, Ghanem KG, Klebanoff MA, Brotman RM. Bacterial Vaginosis and Behavioral Factors Associated with Incident Pelvic Inflammatory Disease in the Longitudinal Study of Vaginal Flora, J Infect Dis. 2021 Aug 16;224 (Supplement_2):S137-S144. PMCID: PMC8499701.

Borgogna JC, Shardell MD, Grace SG, Santori EK, Americus B, Li Z, Ulanov A, Forney L, Nelson TM, Brotman RM, Ravel J, and Yeoman C. Biogenic Amines Increase the Odds of Bacterial Vaginosis and Affect the Growth of and Lactic Acid Production by Vaginal Lactobacillus spp. Appl Environ Microbiol 2021, 87(10). PMCID: PMC8117770.

Turpin R, Slopen N, Borgogna JC, Yeoman CJ, He X, Miller RS, Klebanoff MA, Ravel J, Brotman RM. Perceived Stress and Molecular-BV in the NIH Longitudinal Study of Vaginal Flora. Am J Epidemiol 2021. PMCID: PMC8799897.

Shardell MD, Gravitt PE, Burke AE, Ravel J, Brotman RM. Association of Vaginal Microbiota with Signs and Symptoms Associated with the Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause across Reproductive Stages. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 2021 Apr 27. PMCID: PMC8361365.

Brown SE, Robinson CK, Shardell MD, Holm JB, Ravel J, Ghanem KG, Brotman RM. Assessing the Concordance Between Urogenital and Vaginal Microbiota: Can Urine Specimens Be Used as a Proxy for Vaginal Samples? Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 2021, 11:671413. PMCID: PMC8276069.

Brown SE, He X, Shardell MS, Ravel J, Ghanem KG, Zenilman JM, Brotman RM. Douching cessation and molecular bacterial vaginosis: a re-analysis of archived specimens. STI, in press 5/31/2022.

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

06/01/2022 – 05/31/2026
(MPI, 30%, Ravel, J)
“Cervicovaginal microbiome, mucosal immunity, and pathogen factors that contribute to spontaneous clearance of Chlamydia trachomatis
NIH / NIAID R01-AI167629-01A1

09/01/2021 – 08/30/2026
(MPI, 25%, Shardell)
“Methods to Test the Role of Age-related Lifestyle and Vaginal Microenvironment Changes in the Prevention, Treatment, and Progression of the Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause”
NIH / NIA R01-AG069915

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

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

Professional Activity

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 Comprehensive Cancer Center