Fogarty’s Bridbord Retires, Collects Accolades
As Fogarty International Center’s Dr. Ken Bridbord began his retirement, he was honored this spring for his distinguished leadership by two global health organizations—the HIV Prevention Trials Network and the Consortium of Universities for Global Health.
Although Bridbord has retired from federal service, he remains at Fogarty as senior scientist emeritus. Recently, the center’s staff and friends assembled to toast Bridbord’s many achievements and 35-year tenure at Fogarty.
“We all stand in awe of your contributions,” said FIC director Dr. Roger Glass. “It was an amazing joy to work with you and experience your wisdom, your vision and your warmth.”
A few years after joining FIC, Bridbord co-chaired the 1987 International Conference on AIDS, held in Washington, D.C. That experience inspired him to develop Fogarty’s first institutional extramural funding mechanism—the AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP)—designed to help low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) build the necessary scientific capacity to respond to the devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Bridbord’s vision that NIH field research could be advanced by investing in developing local scientific leadership on the ground in LMICs resulted in creation of scientific leaders who form the backbone of global HIV/AIDS research today, observed the dean of Yale University’s School of Public Health, Dr. Sten Vermund, in a video tribute.
Over the years, Bridbord has influenced countless numbers of research careers and touched virtually every discovery made to advance the prevention and treatment of HIV, observed Dr. Mike Cohen, who was principal investigator on the University of North Carolina’s AITRP grant. “Ken never took anything personally, he kept no grudges and he was endlessly kind.”
AITRP provided the model for subsequent Fogarty research and training initiatives involving noncommunicable diseases, brain disorders, trauma and injury and other topics, resulting in a portfolio of programs that has supported training for more than 6,000 scientists globally and currently awards about $60 million each year.
Speakers also paid tribute to Bridbord’s dedication, flexibility and patience. “You understood that building sustainable international research and public health capacity required an investment measured in decades, and not in years,” observed Dr. Glenda Gray, former Fogarty trainee and grantee, and now president and CEO of the South African Medical Research Council. “You have created a legacy of scientific capacity in the area of HIV/AIDS in Africa, and its impact has, and will continue, to change the world.”
For his many contributions in helping reduce death and suffering from HIV/AIDS, Bridbord received the NIH World AIDS Day Award in 2007, and was honored for distinguished service by his alma mater, the University of Chicago.
Earlier in his career, Bridbord played a critical role in convincing the Environmental Protection Agency to remove lead from gasoline, for which he earned the EPA’s Silver Medal Award. His current research is focused on investigating possible linkages of lead exposure with cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s diseases.