HIV Researcher Robert Redfield Named CDC Director; Some U.S. Lawmakers, Advocates Raise Concerns Over Past Research Practices, Policy Stances, Limited Government Experience

Associated Press: Leading AIDS researcher selected as CDC director
“A leading AIDS researcher was picked Wednesday to run the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal government’s top public health agency. Dr. Robert Ray Redfield Jr., who rose to prominence in the 1980s as a top researcher into the emerging AIDS epidemic, has been named to the post by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar…” (Stobbe, 3/21).

Baltimore Sun: University of Maryland AIDS expert named new CDC director
“…Health Secretary Alex Azar lauded Redfield for his contribution to advancing the understanding of HIV/AIDS. His most recent work was running a treatment center for HIV and hepatitis C patients that Azar said will prepare Redfield for fighting the opioid epidemic, one of the CDC’s most pressing issues…” (McDaniels, 3/21).

The Hill: HIV expert named CDC director
“…Robert Redfield, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, replaces Brenda Fitzgerald, who resigned as CDC director in late January following reports that she purchased stock in tobacco companies…” (Hellmann, 3/21).

Kaiser Health News: Research Misconduct Allegations Shadow New CDC Head
“The Trump administration announced that HIV expert Dr. Robert Redfield will lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ignoring complaints that his work on a high-profile vaccine research more than 20 years ago was flawed. The Army in 1994 acknowledged accuracy issues with HIV vaccine clinical trials led by Redfield, but concluded at the time that the data errors did not constitute misconduct…” (Taylor, 3/21).

New York Times: AIDS Researcher Robert R. Redfield Named to Lead the CDC
“…News of Dr. Redfield’s appointment has revived criticisms about some of his policy stances and research practices that date back to an earlier period in the AIDS epidemic. He came under fire for advocating broad AIDS testing and the screening of military personnel for the virus…” (Kaplan, 3/21).

Wall Street Journal: Robert Redfield Named to Head Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“…[S]ome Democrats have already said they oppose his nomination. ‘I write with concern about your administration’s consideration of Dr. Robert Redfield to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), given his lack of public health credentials and his history of controversial positions regarding the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS,’ Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wrote in a March 19 letter to President Donald Trump. The position doesn’t require Senate confirmation…” (Armour, 3/21).

Washington Post: Longtime AIDS researcher Robert Redfield picked to lead CDC
“…While Redfield’s supporters point to his strong background in infectious disease and global health, public health experts inside and outside the agency say one of his biggest challenges will be his limited governmental public health experience, especially involving emergency responses. Many had hoped the administration would pick Acting Director Anne Schuchat, 58, who has nearly three decades of experience at CDC and is highly regarded within the administration and on Capitol Hill. Azar thanked Schuchat for stepping in, the second time she has done so in the last year. … With infectious disease outbreaks on the rise, the CDC plays a critical role in detecting, preventing and controlling their spread…” (Sun/Crites, 3/21).

Additional reporting on this story is available from The Hill, Nature, Reuters, POLITICO, and Science.

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