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COL Robert O'Connell, MD, FACP

COL, MC, US Army
Chief, Department of Retrovirology, AFRIMS


Dr. O’Connell is a clinical research physician currently assigned to the Armed Forces Institute for Medical Sciences in Bangkok, Thailand where he serves as Chief of the Department of Retrovirology. He also serves as the US Army’s Product Manager for HIV Vaccines in advanced development and from 2010-2013 served as MHRP’s Deputy Chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Virology and Pathogenesis.

In these roles, Dr. O’Connell has been a central figure managing post-RV144 clinical vaccine trials and related laboratory studies. His current research interests focus on furthering advancement of pox-protein HIV vaccine strategies. Dr. O’Connell joined MHRP in 2006 as Chief of the Department of Laboratory Diagnostics and Monitoring, which conducts and oversees Army HIV diagnostic testing and Department of Defense viral load and genotypic resistance testing. While there, he was instrumental in driving the evolution of the HIV testing algorithm for the Army, and conducted research that led to rational selection of hepatitis C and B rapid diagnostic tests that the Armed Services Blood Program uses on the battlefield. 

Dr. O’Connell received a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and his M.D. at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.  He conducted internal medicine residency training as well as infectious diseases fellowship training at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center in San Antonio, TX, where he served for four years practicing internal medicine, infectious diseases, served as Chair of the Medical Center Infection Control Committee, and the USAF HIV Program Director.