AIDS researcher Robert Redfield, MD, has officially been named the new director of the CDC.
HIV/AIDS researcher Robert R. Redfield, MD, signed on as the new director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced in a statement.
“Dr. Redfield has dedicated his entire life to promoting public health and providing compassionate care to his patients, and we are proud to welcome him as director of the world’s premier epidemiological agency,” Azar said.
For over 30 years, Dr. Redfield has been working as a public health leader in the realm of infectious diseases, according to the statement, overseeing clinical care research and providing care for thousands of individuals both in Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, DC.
A professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, as well as the co-founder of the Institute for Human Virology (IHV), Dr. Redfield appears to be an “excellent choice” to the lead the CDC, at least according to Robert C. Gallo, MD, co-founder and director of IHV.
“Dr. Redfield was one of my early collaborations in co-discovering HIV as the cause of AIDS and demonstrating heterosexual transmission of AIDS,” Dr. Gallo said in a recent statement. “He is a dedicated and compassionate physician who truly cares about his patients and is deeply committed to ensuring patients receive the highest quality of care possible.”
However, the appointment is not without controversy. Specifically, there have been allegations made against Dr. Redfield involving research misconduct, with other government officials stressing that he misrepresented data on the effectiveness of a vaccine.
Senator Patty Murray, D-Washington, was so concerned that she wrote a letter to the Trump administration, urging them to reconsider their choice. “His work became the subject of controversy in the early 1990s, when he served as the chief of the Department of Retroviral Research at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR),” she writes. “Dr. Redfield was a strong advocate of an experimental AIDS vaccine called gp-160, and he worked closely with the vaccine’s manufacturer, MicroGeneSys, and a conservative AIDS lobbying group, Americans for Sound AIDS Policy (ASAP), to gain support for the vaccine.”
According to Murray, the Army launched an investigation into Dr. Redfield’s work after he delivered data pertaining to gp-160’s effectiveness at an international conference, feeling that he misrepresented the information. They also found his “close relationship” with ASAP concerning, “finding that WRAIR has shared scientific information with ASAP ‘to a degree that is inappropriate,’” she writes.
Despite these allegations, Dr. Redfield will take over as the new director of the CDC, replacing acting director Anne Schuchat, MD, who helped run the agency through an intense flu season, where influenza-like illness hospitalizations were “the highest we’ve seen since the pandemic in 2009.”