Raymond Carlton Barfield
Professor of Pediatrics

Ray Barfield joined the faculties of Duke's Medical School and Divinity School in 2008. He is married to Karen Barfield, who is an Episcopal priest. Ray and Karen have two children, Micah and Alexandra.

Dr. Barfield came from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, where his research and practice focused on improving immune therapies for childhood cancer (including bone marrow transplantation and antibody therapy), and understanding the moral aspects of decision-making in medical research involving children. At Duke he has turned much of his effort towards bridging activities in theology and medicine. On the medical side of campus he continues to practice as a pediatric oncologist, and he directs the Pediatric Quality of Life/Palliative Care Program, a program that combines medical care, education and research to benefit children with complex, chronic or potentially life-limiting disease. In the Divinity School he develops courses that address topics at the intersection of theology, medicine and culture. He also teaches courses in Christian philosophy.  He is the director of a new initiative called Theology, Medicine, and Culture.

While he continues to publish research papers in oncology and palliative care, much of his current writing focuses on the impact of literature on philosophical thought, and the ways that literature and narrative open up philosophically engaging dimensions of human experience, not least the experiences of illness and suffering. He has over eighty publications in medicine, philosophy and poetry. His book The Ancient Quarrel Between Poetry and Philosophy was recently published by Cambridge University Press, and he has a forthcoming book-length collection of poetry called Life in the Blind Spot.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

  • 2 Chapel Drive, Room 0034 Westbrook Building, Durham, NC 27708
  • Box 3040, Durham, NC 27710

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