The Trump administration has appointed veteran AIDS expert Robert Redfield as chief of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
CDC Has New Chief
Health and Human Services Executive Secretary Alex Azar confirmed Redfield's appointment on Wednesday, highlighting his "pioneering contributions to advance our understanding of HIV/AIDS" at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
Azar added that Redfield's experience in heading a network of treatment facilities in Baltimore dedicated to HIV and Hepatitis C makes him a top candidate for the CDC post.
Robert Redfield's Stellar Achievements
Redfield, a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, was also a frontrunner for the same position during the term of former president George W. Bush. Azar said Redfield is bound to take his oath in the next few days.
Some members of the Congress applauded Redfield's appointment. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland described the new CDC chief as a "deeply experienced and compassionate public health physician."
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend praised Redfield's commitment in addressing the country's opioid epidemic, which is one of CDC's main agenda.
Redfield, 66, has long been studying and advocating AIDS/HIV awareness and education, prevention, and treatment. Despite his stellar achievements, Redfield's appointment is shadowed by a history of scientific misconduct that was investigated by the Senate and the military in the 1990s.
Redfield's most controversial issues include the mandatory HIV screening in the U.S. military in the 1980s. He was also investigated by the Senate after a certain Kimberly Bergalis contacted the virus from her dentist. Redfield was among the main proponents of required HIV testing in healthcare professionals.
A Shadow Of Doubt
However, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer protection group based in Washington D.C., urged the White House not to appoint Redfield. CSPI emphasized Redfield's lack of experience in governance and inadequate relationship with public and private health officials that are necessary for the job.
"What one wants in a director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a scientist of impeccable scientific integrity. What one would get in Robert Redfield is a sloppy scientist with a long history of scientific misconduct and an extreme religious agenda," CSPI wrote on its website.
Former Air Force Lt. Col. Craig Hendrix also questioned Redfield's credibility pertaining to the mass HIV vaccination that resulted in a number of deaths within a few months.
"Either he was egregiously sloppy with data or it was fabricated. It was somewhere on that spectrum, both of which were serious and raised questions about his trustworthiness," Hendrix said, who is now the director of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.