Dr. Robert Redfield has been selected as the next director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday.
Redfield is an infectious disease specialist with a focus on HIV and AIDS and is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He served on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS under George W. Bush. He also served in the Army Medical Corps for 20 years.
“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,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.
Redfield also runs a treatment network in Baltimore for HIV and hepatitis C patients, which Azar said prepared him to “hit the ground running on one of HHS and CDC’s top priorities, combating the opioid epidemic.”
Not everyone is welcoming Redfield’s appointment. The Center for Science in the Public Interest released a statement urging the administration against naming him to the post, claiming a lack of experience in leading a public health agency, a history of scientific misconduct and support for HIV/AIDS policies that are opposed by most public health experts.
“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,” Peter Lurie, the center’s director and president, said in a statement.
Redfield replaces Dr. Anne Schuchat, who has been serving as interim director since January. The administration’s previous pick, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, resigned after reports that she bought tobacco stock after taking her position at the agency, which conflicts with its mission.