Skip to Main Content

Information about the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak.

Marion Kainer Honored with National Pumphandle Award

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 | 10:42am
Marion Kainer Pumphandle Award

NASHVILLE – Marion Kainer, MD, MPH, FRACP, FSHEA has been named the 2019 recipient of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists’ Pumphandle Award. Kainer serves as director of the TDH Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance Program, leading a team working to make healthcare safer and to combat antimicrobial resistance.

The CSTE Pumphandle Award is given each year to honor a state, local, territorial or federal epidemiologist who has made extraordinary contributions to and outstanding achievements in the field of applied epidemiology.

“Marion has provided crucial leadership in healthcare associated infections work at TDH and for programs across the country, and is a valued and enthusiastic leader in this important area,“ said TDH Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “TDH is fortunate to have a physician with her skills and knowledge working to protect and promote public health, and we are thrilled for her receiving this honor from CSTE.“

Kainer is an adult infectious diseases physician and healthcare epidemiologist and a nationally recognized expert in combatting healthcare associated infections and antibiotic resistance. She joined the Tennessee Department of Health in 2003. In her role as director of the Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance Program, she oversees several grants and directs a large, multi-disciplinary team that participates in surveillance, outbreak response, community intervention and professional education activities. Kainer led the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak investigation at TDH, working with teams from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration and more than 20 affected states to track the outbreak and take action to prevent more deaths and disease. For this effort she was named Tennessean of the Year by The Tennessean in 2012 and was honored in 2013 by the White House as a Champion of Change for Prevention and Public Health.

Kainer has been instrumental in standardizing surveillance through facilitating reporting of several healthcare associated infections across the country via the National Healthcare Safety Network. She serves as the CSTE liaison to both the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee and the National Healthcare Safety Network change control board in addition to chairing CSTE’s Healthcare Associated Infections Subcommittee and co-chairing the HAI Data Standards Committee. She has served as a member of the President’s Council of Advisors in Science and Technology. She is a member of the Public Policy and Governmental Affairs Committee of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, serves on SHEA's Public Health Task Force and is involved in SHEA's Women in Epi group.

Kainer earned her medical degree at the University of Melbourne and her Master of Public Health from Monash University, both in Australia. She completed an infectious disease fellowship and became a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. She has served as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. In addition to her work at TDH, she serves as an associate professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn.

The CSTE Pumphandle Award is named in honor of physician John Snow, a pioneer in the field of epidemiology. While working to find the source of a cholera epidemic in London, England in 1854, he removed the pumphandle from a well he believed was providing contaminated drinking water. His simple action saved numerous lives.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. Learn more about TDH services and programs at