Robert R. Redfield

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Robert R. Redfield
Robert R. Redfield.jpg
Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Assumed office
March 26, 2018
PresidentDonald Trump
DeputyAnne Schuchat
Preceded byBrenda Fitzgerald
Personal details
Robert Ray Redfield Jr.

(1951-07-10) July 10, 1951 (age 68)[citation needed]
EducationGeorgetown University (BS, MD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1977–1996
RankUS-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
UnitMedical Corps

Robert Ray Redfield Jr. (born July 10, 1951[not verified in body]) is an American virologist. He is the current Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the current Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, having served in both positions since March 2018.

Early life and education[edit]

Born Robert Ray Redfield Jr.[citation needed][1] on July 10, 1951,[citation needed] Redfield's parents were both scientists at the National Institutes of Health; Redfield's career in medical research was influenced by this background.[2] Redfield attended Georgetown University,[3] and at college worked in Columbia University laboratories where investigations focused on the involvement of retroviruses in human disease.[citation needed]

Redfield earned a Bachelor of Science from the university's College of Arts and Sciences in 1973. He then attended Georgetown University School of Medicine, and was awarded his Doctor of Medicine in 1977.


Army medical service[edit]

Redfield's medical residency was undertaken at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) in Washington, D.C., where he completed his postgraduate medical training and internships in internal medicine (1978-1980), as a U.S. Army officer. Redfield completed clinical and research fellowships at WRAMC, in infectious diseases and tropical medicine, by 1982.[3]

Redfield continued as a U.S. Army physician and medical researcher at the WRAMC for the next decade, working in the fields of virology, immunology and clinical research. During this period he collaborated with numerous teams at the forefront of AIDS research, publishing several papers and acting as an advocate for strategies to translate knowledge gained from clinical studies to the practical treatment of patients afflicted by chronic viral diseases.[third-party source needed][3][verification needed]

In 1996, Redfield retired from the army as a colonel,[4]:417 to concentrate on setting up a multidisciplinary research organization dedicated to developing research and treatment programs for chronic human viral infection and disease. To this end, he co-founded the Institute of Human Virology based at Maryland, together with his HIV research colleague Robert Gallo and viral epidemiologist William Blattner.[2]

Academic positions[edit]

Redfield served as a tenured professor of medicine and microbiology at University of Maryland, Baltimore,[when?] chief of infectious disease,[when?] vice chair of medicine,[when?] and a co-founder and associate director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.[when?][2] Redfield is known for his contributions in this period—in clinical research, in particular, for extensive research into the virology and therapeutic treatments of HIV infection and AIDS. In the early years of investigations into the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s, Redfield led research that demonstrated that the HIV retrovirus could be heterosexually transmitted.[third-party source needed][2][3][5][6] He also developed the staging system now in use worldwide for the clinical assessment of HIV infection.[2][3] Under his clinical leadership at the University of Maryland the patient base grew from just 200 patients to approximately 6,000 in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and more than 1.3 million in African and Caribbean nations.[7] Under his research leadership his clinical research team successfully competed for and won over 600 million dollars of research funding.[8]

CDC leadership[edit]

Redfield speaks on the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020

Redfield has served as the director of the CDC since March 26, 2018.[9] In his inaugural address to the CDC Redfield said "[The agency is] science-based and data-driven, and that's why CDC has the credibility around the world that it has.”[9] He was nominated for the post by President Donald Trump, after the President's first appointee resigned in scandal.[10] His nomination was considered controversial, and was opposed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which cited Redfield's lack of experience administering a public health agency, his history of scientific misconduct, and his religious advocacy in response to a public health crisis.[11][12] Mother Jones refers to his advocacy of a religious agenda in response to the AIDS crisis [13]

The first confirmed case of COVID-19 was discovered in the US on January 20, 2020, while Redfield was serving as director of the CDC. Redfield testified to Congress on March 2, 2020, about the outbreak of COVID-19 in the US. Given the lack of testing on patients and healthcare workers requesting testing, Florida Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz asked Redfield about who was responsible to ensure testing could be performed on individuals who needed to be tested. Redfield could not name a specific individual and looked to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of infectious disease at the NIH, who said, "The system is not geared to what we need right now... that is a failing."[14][15]

Public health reporter Laurie Garrett opined, "Redfield is about the worst person you could think of to be heading the CDC at this time. He lets his prejudices interfere with the science, which you cannot afford during a pandemic."[16]

Awards and service[edit]

Redfield has received several awards over the course of his career as a physician-scientist, including an honorary degree from the New York Medical College,[when?] a lifetime services award from the Institute for Advanced Studies in Immunology and Aging,[when?] and the Surgeon General's Physician Recognition Award.[when?][3] In 2012, along with William Blattner, he was named entrepreneur of the year at the University of Maryland.[17] In 2016 he was named the inaugural Robert C. Gallo, MD Endowed Professors in Translational Medicine.[18]

Redfield also served as a member of the President's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS from 2005 to 2009,[citation needed] and was appointed as chair of the International Subcommittee from 2006 to 2009.[citation needed] He is a past member of the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council at the National Institutes of Health,[citation needed] the Fogarty International Center Advisory Board at the National Institutes of Health,[citation needed] and the Advisory Anti-Infective Agent Committee of the Food and Drug Administration.[citation needed]


HIV vaccine research[edit]

In 1992, the Defense Department investigated Redfield after he was accused of misrepresenting the effects of an experimental HIV vaccine, the study of which he had overseen.[19]

In 1992, the U.S. Senate gave a $20 million appropriation for a private company, MicroGeneSys, to develop a therapeutic HIV vaccine based on the protein gp160, which went into clinical trials. Randy Shilts, author of And The Band Played On, wrote in his followup book that the idea of a therapeutic vaccine was a radical idea that came to Redfield while reading his children a book about Louis Pasteur which he then discussed with Jonas Salk who was in support.[20][page needed][verification needed] At the time a U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, Redfield was the army's leading AIDS researcher, and a proponent of the vaccine.

In July 1992, Redfield gave an abstract presentation on the vaccine at the international AIDS conference in Amsterdam. Based on preliminary results of 15 of the 26 patients who got the vaccine, Redfield said that the viral load of patients getting the vaccine was lower than patients who did not get the vaccine. Most researchers believe that viral load is a good indicator of vaccine effectiveness. The vaccine later turned out to be ineffective. Many researchers said that Redfield had made a reasonable interpretation of the preliminary data by selecting only 15 patients who had been on the vaccine for 18 months, but US Air Force scientist Major Craig Hendrix, MD (now at Johns Hopkins) said that Redfield committed scientific misconduct by selecting data that were favorable to the vaccine.[4][page needed][verification needed]

In 1993, a U.S. Army investigation determined that Redfield had not committed scientific misconduct,[21][19] and he was subsequently promoted to colonel.[citation needed] Redfield is quoted in Big Shot: Passion, Politics, and the Struggle for an AIDS Vaccine, the comprehensive book on the controversy, as saying of his accusers, "I am disappointed in the institutions for not holding the individuals accountable for what I consider conduct unbecoming of an officer."[4][page needed]

Redfield continued studies of the gp160 vaccine; the results of his 27-author phase II clinical trial were published in the Journal of Infectious Disease in 2000, with Deborah L. Birx as lead author.[22] Redfield's multi-site study was a collaboration between the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health,[22] The work did not, however, result in an effective vaccine.[19]

HIV interventions[edit]

The 1993 investigation did say that Redfield had an "inappropriate" close relationship with the non-governmental group "Americans for a Sound AIDS/HIV Policy" (ASAP), which promoted the gp160 vaccine. The group was founded by evangelical Christians that worked to contain the HIV/AIDS outbreak by advocating for abstinence before marriage, rather than passing out condoms — a view Redfield says he's since changed.[21][23]

Redfield served on the board of ASAP, which gay groups criticized for anti-gay, conservative Christian policies, such as abstinence-only prevention.[24] Redfield also authored the foreword to the book co-written by ASAP leader W. Shepard Smith, "Christians in the Age of AIDS" which discouraged the distribution of sterile needles to drug users as well as condom use calling them "false prophets." The book described AIDS as "God's judgment" against homosexuals.[25] At the time of his nomination to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Redfield maintained close ties with anti-gay and anti-HIV activists,[24] although he has publicly supported the use of condoms and denied ever promoting abstinence-only interventions.[9] However, in the 2000s, Redfield was a prominent advocate for the ABCs of AIDS doctrine which promoted abstinence primarily and condoms only a last resort.[26]

CDC director's salary[edit]

In 2018, after Redfield was appointed to the CDC, Democrats and watchdog groups criticized his $375,000-a-year salary, which was significantly higher than the $219,700 salary of his predecessor, Tom Frieden, and higher than that of his own boss, Alex Azar, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (and former president of a division of Eli Lilly).

Azar and the head of the FDA had taken significant pay cuts on moving into government service, but their salaries are set by Congress while the salary of the CDC director is not.[27] Within a few days, Redfield asked for and received a pay reduction to $209,700 from $375,000 because "[he] did not want his compensation to become a distraction from the important work of the CDC."[28]

Coronavirus data[edit]

On 6 April 2020, Redfield stated on AM 1030 KVOI Radio in Tucson, Arizona, “[t]hose models that were done, they assume only about 50 percent of the American public would pay attention to the recommendations. In fact, what we’re seeing is a large majority of the American public are taking the social distancing recommendations to heart. And I think that’s the direct consequence of why you’re seeing the numbers are going to be much, much, much lower than would have been predicted by the models.".[29][30][31]

On 21 May 2020, The Atlantic Magazine reported on the intentional conflation of the viral and antibody testing results that the CDC, under Redfield's leadership, has been compiling data on since the beginning of the year. This conflation of the tests' results has led to misrepresentations in the media and in public opinion of the current state of the virus's spread. Several states have now also adopted this approach for reporting on the number of tests given and their results, and they've used those faulty, unscientific statistics to aid in the planning for reopening their states.[32]

Personal life[edit]

Redfield is married to Joyce Hoke,[when?] whom he met while delivering babies as a medical student when she was a nursing assistant.[33] They have six children and nine grandchildren.[33]



  1. ^ CBS/AP Staff (March 22, 2018). "AIDS researcher Robert R. Redfield selected as CDC director". CBS News. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e Institute of Human Virology (2008)
  3. ^ a b c d e f Medical Institute of Sexual Health (2007)
  4. ^ a b c Thomas, Patricia (September 18, 2001). Big Shot: Passion, Politics, and the Struggle for an AIDS Vaccine.[full citation needed]
  5. ^ Redfield et al. (1985a).
  6. ^ Redfield et al. (1985b)
  7. ^ University of Maryland, Baltimore. "Dr. Robert Redfield, Co-Founder of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, to Become CDC Director". University of Maryland, Baltimore. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  8. ^ "Institute of Human Virology Annual Report 2107" (PDF). Institute of Human Virology. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Sun, Lena H. (March 29, 2018). "In emotional speech, CDC's new leader vows to uphold science". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  10. ^ Goldschmidt, Debra (March 21, 2018). "Dr. Robert Redfield appointed to lead CDC". CNN. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  11. ^ "CSPI Urges Administration Not to Appoint Dr. Robert Redfield, with History of Scientific Misconduct, as CDC Director | Center for Science in the Public Interest". March 21, 2018. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  12. ^ Goldschmidt, Debra (March 21, 2018). "Dr. Robert Redfield appointed CDC director". CNN.
  13. ^ Choma, Russ (March 7, 2020). "Trump's CDC director has a history of controversial opinions on controlling viruses". Mother Jones. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  14. ^ "NIH's Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC's Dr. Robert Redfield testify on Capitol Hill". YouTube. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  15. ^ "Opinion Early Coronavirus Testing Failures Will Cost Lives". NPR. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  16. ^ Luce, Edward (May 14, 2020). "Inside Trump's coronavirus meltdown". Financial Times. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  17. ^ University of Maryland, Baltimore. "Past Founders Week Award Winners". University of Maryland, Baltimore. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  18. ^ University of Maryland, Baltimore. "Two Prominent Institute of Human Virology Researchers Honored With Robert C. Gallo, MD Endowed Professorships in Translational Medicine". University of Maryland, Baltimore. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  19. ^ a b c Kalenderian, Michael (March 12, 2020). "Trumps CDC Director is not great". Vice News.
  20. ^ Shilts, Randy (June 23, 2005). Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military.[full citation needed]
  21. ^ a b Cohen, J (1993). "Army clears Redfield—but fails to resolve controversy". Science. 261 (5123, 1 August): 824–825. doi:10.1126/science.8346432. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  22. ^ a b Birx DL, Loomis-Price LD, Aronson N, Brundage J, Davis C, Deyton L, Garner R, Gordin F, Henry D, Holloway W, Kerkering T, Luskin-Hawk R, McNeil J, Michael N, Foster Pierce P, Poretz D, Ratto-Kim S, Renzullo P, Ruiz N, Sitz K, Smith G, Tacket C, Thompson M, Tramont E, Yangco B, Yarrish R, Redfield RR [rgp160 Phase II Vaccine Investigators] (March 2000). "Efficacy testing of recombinant human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) gp160 as a therapeutic vaccine in early-stage HIV-1-infected volunteers". J Infect Dis. 181 (3): 881–889. doi:10.1086/315308. PMID 10720508. Retrieved March 29, 2020.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  23. ^ Meier, Barry (November 2, 1993). "Political Battle Over an AIDS Drug". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  24. ^ a b Strub, Sean (March 20, 2018). "Concerns About Robert Redfield for CDC". POZ.
  25. ^ Garrett, Laurie. "Why Trump's new CDC director is an abysmal choice". CNN.
  26. ^ Garrett, Laurie. "Meet Trump's New, Homophobic Public Health Quack".
  27. ^ Kaplan, Sheila (April 27, 2018). "New C.D.C. Director's $375,000 Salary Under Scrutiny". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  28. ^ Kaplan, Sheila (May 8, 2018). "C.D.C. Director's Salary Is Reduced to $209,700 From $375,000". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  29. ^ " "CDC director downplays coronavirus models". ABC News. April 7, 2020. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  30. ^ "Coronavirus disease (COVID-2019) situation reports".
  31. ^ "publicly available data published by Johns Hopkins University Of Medicine".
  32. ^ "How Could the CDC Make That Mistake?".
  33. ^ a b Kaplan, Sheila (March 18, 2018). "AIDS Researcher Top Candidate to Lead the C.D.C." The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 12, 2018.


External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Brenda Fitzgerald
Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2018 – present