HIV expert named CDC director

HIV expert named CDC director
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An HIV researcher will be the next director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar announced Wednesday.

Robert Redfield, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, replaces Brenda FitzgeraldBrenda FitzgeraldOvernight Health Care: Drug company under scrutiny for Michael Cohen payments | New Ebola outbreak | FDA addresses EpiPen shortage CDC director to take pay cut of more than 5k CDC director asks for salary reduction after questions raised MORE, who resigned as CDC director in late January following reports that she purchased stock in tobacco companies.

Redfield worked in the Department of Retroviral Research within the U.S. Military HIV Research Program and served in the Army Medical Corps for 20 years before retiring. He also served as a member of the President's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS from 2005 to 2009 and co-founded the University of Maryland's Institute of Human Virology. 

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Azar said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that 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."

"Dr. Redfield’s scientific and clinical background is peerless: As just one example, during his two-decade tenure at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, he made pioneering contributions to advance our understanding of HIV/AIDS. His more recent work running a treatment network in Baltimore for HIV and Hepatitis C patients also prepares him to hit the ground running on one of HHS and CDC’s top priorities, combating the opioid epidemic," he added.

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Senators seek CBO input on preventing surprise medical bills | Oversight panel seeks OxyContin documents | Pharmacy middlemen to testify on prices | Watchdog warns air ambulances can put patients at 'financial risk' Senators ask CBO to review options for preventing surprise medical bills White House proposes limits on student loan borrowing as part of higher education reforms MORE (Wash.), the top Democrat on the Senate's health committee, raised concerns Tuesday following reports that Redfield would likely be picked for the post.

In the 1990s, Redfield was investigated for misrepresenting data to promote an AIDS vaccine that he was connected with, but the Army concluded at the time it didn't constitute misconduct.

Earlier in his career, Redfield also advocated for policies like mandatory patient testing for HIV, and for segregating HIV-positive soldiers from the rest of the Army.

“This pattern of ethically and morally questionable behavior leads me to seriously question whether Dr. Redfield is qualified to be the federal government’s chief advocate and spokesman for public health,” Murray wrote in a letter to President TrumpDonald John TrumpHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Countdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Omar: White supremacist attacks are rising because Trump publicly says 'Islam hates us' MORE earlier this week.

Murray urged the White House to choose a different candidate "whose experience and positions lend credibility to the nation’s critical public health work.”  

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderRomney helps GOP look for new path on climate change GOP eager to exploit Dem court-packing fight Overnight Health Care: Senators seek CBO input on preventing surprise medical bills | Oversight panel seeks OxyContin documents | Pharmacy middlemen to testify on prices | Watchdog warns air ambulances can put patients at 'financial risk' MORE (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate's health committee, praised Azar's decision, however. 

“Dr. Redfield has a strong background to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — he has spent his career researching public health threats such as HIV/AIDS and drug addiction," Alexander said in a statement. 

"I am looking forward to discussing the work we have ahead of us to help states and communities fight the opioid crisis.”