Richard Marlink

As Executive Director of the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative (HAI), Dr. Marlink has been responsible for the evaluation and coordination of AIDS research and training programs for developing countries and disenfranchised populations. In this role, he has also organized numerous policy and educational programs to address the care and treatment needs of HIV/AIDS patients.  Most recently he was the Program Chair for Harvard’s International Symposium: AIDS at 30: Engaging to End the Epidemic.

In 1996, Dr. Marlink helped create the Botswana-HAI Partnership for HIV Research and Education (BHP). Through this partnership the Government of Botswana and HAI have worked together to combat the AIDS epidemic in Botswana. Under his direction, and in partnership with the Botswana Ministry of Health, HAI launched the KITSO AIDS Training Program in 1999. KITSO is the national training program for physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, which has trained more than 9000 health professionals in HIV/AIDS care and antiretroviral treatment. KITSO training modules address issues such as antiretroviral therapy, HIV/AIDS-related disease management, gender-specific HIV issues, task-sharing, supportive and palliative care, and various psychosocial and counseling themes. In addition, Dr. Marlink was the Botswana County Director for Harvard Chan School’s 3-country President’s Emergency Plan AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) grant, The Botswana PEPFAR effort includes a Clinical and Laboratory Master Training Program and the creation of the Botswana Ministry of Health’s Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, now all directed by BHP.

Also in Botswana, in the year 2000, Dr. Marlink was a co-founder of a distinct partnership involving a large commitment to the Government of Botswana from the Bill and Melinda Gates and Merck Foundations.  This commitment continues to provide support for various AIDS prevention and care efforts in Botswana.  Dr. Marlink serves on the Board of Directors of the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnership (ACHAP), the implementing body for this public-private partnership in Botswana.


As a Senior Research Director for the Botswana-HAI Partnership, Dr. Marlink also served as the Principal Investigator for the Tshepo Study, Botswana’s first large-scale antiretroviral treatment study funded by the Bristol-Myers Squibb “Secure the Future” Foundation. This study has helped lay the foundation for determining the rate of HIV drug resistance and characterization of viral mutations in HIV-1 subtype C, the subtype of HIV most prevalent in Southern Africa. Using a factorial design, the study randomized patients to determine whether intensive clinic-based follow-up of patients or intensive clinic-based follow-up with added community-based Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) is superior for medication adherence in this African setting.

Through the Harvard School of Public Health and the Government of Botswana, Dr. Marlink was the Principal Investigator for the study examining the cost implications of the National ARV Therapy Program under a 3-year National Institutes of Health grant.  This study made important contributions to understanding the cost of providing HIV/AIDS treatment in Botswana and more accurately assessed additional resource requirements.  Dr. Marlink also was the Principal Investigator for a unique set of studies entitled, a Botswana National Evaluation of Models of HIV/AIDS Care. These studies were designed to evaluate health care delivery models to support recommended changes in operational strategies to result in better quality of care and in cost savings. This effort drew from the existing Botswana National ARV Treatment Program, known as Masa, and by establishing new cohorts.

Dr. Marlink is also an Investigator or Principal Investigator in a variety of other clinical studies examining questions related to genomic and immunologic analysis of HIV-1C, the role of micronutrient supplementation to slow the progression of HIV disease, and a large study in Zambia and South Africa looking at the safety of antiretroviral medications given during conception and pregnancy.

Previously as Scientific Director then Vice President for International Program Implementation at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and currently as Senior Advisor, Dr. Marlink has been involved in multiple care and treatment programs in twelve African countries: Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.  Between 2004 and 2012, as the Principal Investigator for the Foundation’s multi-country PEPFAR effort, Project HEART, he helped lead the development of care treatment and prevention efforts in Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia.  This project was the largest single PEPFAR effort to date, in terms of the numbers of individuals living with HIV who were able to be enrolled into care and treatment programs, reaching greater than 1 million people with clinical care efforts and placing greater then 565,000 of those onto needed antiretroviral treatment.

Dr. Marlink has authored or co-authored over 125 scientific articles. He has also written a textbook on AIDS, Global AIDS Crisis: A Reference Handbook, and co-edited another, AIDS in Africa, 2nd Edition. In addition, he has been the editor of two Special Supplements to the journal AIDS and is the Executive Editor for the 320 author, 3-book series: From the Ground Up: A Guide to Building Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Care Programs in Resource Limited Settings.


B.A., 1976, Human Biology, Brown University
M.D., 1980, Medicine, University of New Mexico

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