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Robert Redfield, 68, is the 18th director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a position he has held since March 26, 2018. He is also a member of President Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, which is headed by Vice President Mike Pence.
Redfield’s path to his position started early. Both his parents were scientists at the National Institutes of Health and were huge influences in driving him toward a career in retroviruses in human disease.
Along his way to his current job, he worked as an Army physician and medical researcher for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. While there, he worked together with several teams on the cutting edge of AIDS research, writing several papers on the topic.
His work prior to joining the CDC was not without controversy and in 1992, the Defense Department launched an investigation after he was accused of promoting the effects of an HIV vaccine he’d overseen. Although no evidence of misconduct was found, the vaccine failed.
When he retired from the Army in 1996 as a colonel, he began to concentrate on setting up a multidisciplinary research organization to develop research and treatment programs for chronic human viral infection and disease.
To help study this, he co-founded the Institute of Human Virology based at Maryland, together with his HIV research colleagues Robert Gallo, the co-discoverer of the HIV retrovirus, and renowned viral epidemiologist William Blattner.
Prior to joining the CDC, Redfield served as a tenured professor of medicine and microbiology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, as well as chief of infectious disease, vice chair of medicine and co-founder and associate director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
In the early years of AIDS, Redfield led research responsible for being the first to conclusively show the HIV retrovirus could be heterosexually transmitted, while also developing the staging system now used worldwide for the clinical assessment of the HIV infection.
However, in 1992 his work on a controversial AIDS vaccine that turned out to be ineffective brought allegations he committed scientific misconduct by selecting data that were favorable to the vaccine.
A decade later, an investigation by the U.S. Army did say he had an "inappropriate" close relationship with the non-governmental group "Americans for a Sound AIDS/HIV Policy" (ASAP), which promoted the vaccine. The group, founded by evangelical Christians, 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...
Redfield also authored the foreword to a 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,” a book describing AIDS as "God's judgment" against homosexuals.
Fox News' Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.