Dr. John Bartlett Reflects on Time with the CFAR

John BartlettAfter many years of service as Clinical Core Director, Dr. John Bartlett is passing the baton to Dr. Dorothy Dow and Dr. Thuy Le, who will lead the core as Co-Directors. Dr. Bartlett is a Professor of Medicine, Global Health, and Nursing at Duke University Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre in Moshi, Tanzania. Duke CFAR Director Dr. Georgia Tomaras recognizes the incredible legacy Dr. Bartlett has had at Duke so far: “John inspired ongoing research at Duke to understand natural control of HIV replication in PLWH. His work to build the infrastructure for these types of studies at Duke have been enabling for the research programs of several early career investigators.”

We asked Dr. Bartlett to share a few reflections on his involvement with CFAR over the years.

Back in 2004, Dr. Kent Weinhold approached Dr. Bartlett to be the Co-Director as part of an NIH Center for AIDS Research application. Dr. Bartlett credits Dr. Weinhold’s understanding of the historical, cultural, and emotional context of HIV infection, as well as the vision to see an opportunity at Duke to bring together basic science and clinical care. His leadership over many years set the CFAR on its path for success.

Dr. Bartlett reflected on the changes and growth of the CFAR over the years that led to many achievements, particularly the recruitment of phenomenal faculty to the CFAR and the investment and mentorship provided by the Developmental Core under the direction of Dr. Herman Staats. The addition of the Social & Behavioral Sciences Core and the Quantitative Sciences Core, as well as the diversification of investigators in the CFAR are further examples of “the prevailing approach of opportunism, flexibility, and evolution” that has resulted in a well-rounded CFAR.

Speaking of his time with the Clinical Core, Dr. Bartlett notes the crucial role that the Core played as a connection to the community in the early days of the CFAR, with much credit to Trish Bartlett and Julia Giner and their work to maintain these connections; the successes in HIV treatment and care have been the product of teamwork and the important work of bringing together patients, advocates, and researchers. Dr. Bartlett also noted his gratitude for the hard work and can-do attitudes of Stuart Carr and Kathy Link and their support for clinical investigators. Under the leadership of Dr. Bartlett and Co-Director Dr. Coleen Cunningham, the Core was able to balance clinical and research focuses on both adult and pediatric care. The two leaders also shared a common vision for how to expand CFAR activities internationally. These international partnerships have added depth and important scientific contributions, and have been mutually beneficial for Duke and our partners.

Continuing his expressions of gratitude for the many people who have moved the CFAR forward, Dr. Bartlett noted the important contributions and leadership of Mary Oris and Kelly Suñé to guide the direction of the CFAR over the years, keeping a pulse on all of the happenings at the CFAR with an eye for the future. Dr. Bartlett has lots of enthusiasm for the future of the CFAR, and recognizes Dr. Georgia Tomaras and Dr. Susanna Naggie as the perfect leaders for CFAR to build upon Dr. Weinhold’s vision with a fresh perspective.

The resounding theme from Dr. Bartlett’s reflections was the importance of growth and the transition in leadership that comes with this: “CFAR has to evolve because HIV/AIDS and the needs of our population are evolving.” Over the years, he has had a front seat to a fantastic evolution of the CFAR, and all of us at the Duke CFAR are so grateful for all of his incredible contributions, leadership, and mentoring that will continue to move the CFAR forward. Duke CFAR Co-Director Dr. Naggie’s comments sum up the impact that Dr. Bartlett has had on so many: “John is one of the giants in the field of HIV clinical research. There is no one at Duke to fill his shoes and that is OK. We can all strive to fill his shoes and we and our patients will be better for it.”