Dr. Hagen is director of the CFAR LINCS Initiative at the Center for AIDS Research at Emory University (CFAR), in Atlanta Georgia, associate director of the CFAR Developmental Core, and an assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Science and Health Education at the Rollins School of Public Health. She is also the director/goddess of two science organizations related to AIDS, the Vaccine Dinner Club (official motto: “Hot Food, Cool Science … Count Me In!”) and the CFAR Network Pizza Party (official motto: “Better Science Through Pizza”). Over the course of almost three decades she has worked variously as a community educator, patient educator, medical educator, science educator, and research mentor in the field of HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Hagen’s entry into AIDS came in 1985, only four years into the epidemic, when she began volunteering as a community educator at AID Atlanta, one of the nation's first AIDS service organizations. In 1988 she joined the Emory School of Medicine as a medical educator for Emory’s first AIDS-specific grant, the Southeast AIDS Training and Education Center (SEATEC). Because, in the early days of the epidemic, almost all practicing doctors, nurses, dentists, and other health care providers had finished their training before the advent of AIDS, SEATEC was charged with teaching health profession students and practitioners in a four state area how to provide care for patients with HIV while protecting themselves physically and emotionally.
In 1988 Dr. Hagen also began working as a patient educator in the newly formed Grady Memorial Hospital Infectious Disease Program (IDP). Although the majority of the 5,000 patients that the IDP now sees annually are fully versed in the latest research about HIV treatment, in the IDP’s earliest days most of the patients that Dr. Hagen worked with had never even heard of the disease that was making them sick.
In 1998 Emory University received its first funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) to expand the depth and breadth of HIV/AIDS research taking place at the University and Dr. Hagen was recruited as Assistant Director of the new Center. At CFAR she fosters multidisciplinary linkages; produces a weekly electronic newsletter, the Network News; helps bring new faculty into AIDS research; and assists junior faculty in developing their HIV/AIDS research careers. She also works on contract with the CDC to provide workforce development training for HIV/AIDS medical staff in Africa, supervises graduate student research on HIV/AIDS, and is a member of the City of Atlanta Jurisdictional HIV Prevention Planning Group and the Ryan White Outside Review Committee for the State of Georgia.
Dr. Hagen is the recipient of two of the highest honors that Emory University can bestow: the Emory Award of Distinction and Teacher of the Year. She has made it her life’s work to help people understand the complexity of HIV/AIDS.