Michael Vernon Relf
Associate Professor in the School of Nursing, with tenure

Michael Relf, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, AACRN, CNE, FAAN, is the Associate Dean for Global and Community Affairs.  From the period 2008-2014, he served as the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education and Director of the Accelerated BSN Program in the School of Nursing at Duke University.

Initially, his clinical practice was in adult critical care where he functioned as a staff nurse, critical care clinical nurse specialist, and nurse manager.  It was through these experiences early in the HIV epidemic that his practice shifted to infectious diseases.  When pursuing his Doctor of Philosophy degree in nursing from Johns Hopkins University, he completed substantial coursework focused on HIV/AIDS including courses in immunopathology, health policy, women’s studies, political science, and nursing.  His research focuses on the psychosocial aspects of HIV using mixed-methods particularly focusing on intimate partner violence, HIV-related stigma, and interventions to promote engagement in HIV-oriented primary medical care and disclosure of serostatus to sexual partners.  Additionally, through his research, he has documented the role of the professional and advanced practice nurse in the prevention, care and treatment of persons at risk for or living with HIV.

Through his research, Dr. Relf has examined the relationship between childhood sexual abuse, intimate partner violence and HIV risk behaviors among men who have sex with men. This work received international press attention (Germany, France, Chile, United Kingdom, Romania, Turkey, Spain) and appeared on the front page of The Boston Globe (Dec. 18, 2002) and in the Toronto Star (Feb. 15, 2003).  As a co-investigator on a President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funded project to build nursing capacity in the context of HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa, Dr. Relf, in collaboration with colleagues from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe, published the Essential nursing competencies related to HIV and AIDS (see Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS, Care, 22 (Supplement 1), e5-e40).  Subsequently, these competencies have been adapted to the context of HIV/AIDS nursing practice in Canada and Thailand.  Dr. Relf’s research has been funded by the American Nurses Foundation; Sigma Theta Tau International; The Special Projects of National Significance, HIV-AIDS Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services; the National Institutes of Nursing Research/National Institutes of Health; and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Dr. Relf is an Advanced HIV/AIDS Certified Registered Nurse (AACRN), a certified adult clinical nurse specialist (ACNS-BC), and certified nurse educator (CNE).  He was recognized by the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care with the Frank Lamendola Achievement Award for Nursing Leadership in HIV Care in 2003 and the Spirit of Nursing Award for mentoring in 2006.  He was selected for Fellowship into the American Academy of Nursing in 2008 and was the co-chair of the Emerging and Infectious Diseases Expert Panel from 2008 - 2010.  In 2013, he was the recipient of the Duke University School of Nursing, Distinguished Teaching Award presented by the Faculty Governance Association.  During his career, he has been a visiting scholar at Queen’s University, Belfast (Northern Ireland) and the University of Zululand (South Africa).

Prior to joining DUSON in 2008, Dr. Relf was the Chair of the Department of Nursing at Georgetown University (2001 – 2008) and the Associate Medical Administrator/Director of Nursing and Clinical Support Services at Whitman-Walker Clinic (1999 – 2001). He earned his BS with a major in nursing from South Dakota University, his MS in nursing administration in healthcare services from Georgetown University, and his PhD in nursing from Johns Hopkins University.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

  • DUMC 3322, 307 Trent Dr, Clipp Building 1004A, Durham, NC 27710
  • DUMC 3322, 307 Trent Drive, Clipp Building 1004A, Durham, NC 27710

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