A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

In Memoriam: Charles C. J. Carpenter, MD


Charles “Chuck” C. J. Carpenter, MD, 89, died March 19. A professor emeritus of medicine, Dr. Carpenter served as chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine, physician-in-chief of The Miriam Hospital, and director of the Brown University AIDS Center.

Born in Savannah, GA, and raised in Birmingham, AL, Dr. Carpenter studied English literature at Princeton before going to Johns Hopkins for medical school. As chief resident there he met Sally Fisher, who became his wife of 61 years.

After a stint doing research at the NIH, in 1962 Dr. Carpenter traveled to Calcutta, India, to start the Johns Hopkins Cholera Research program, where he demonstrated the value of antibiotics and defined the fluid requirements essential for the treatment of cholera. The advances his group made in creating lifesaving oral rehydration therapy by using locally available materials in resource-poor settings were quickly adopted around the world.

Dr. Carpenter remained active in cholera research as a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins and physician-in-chief at Baltimore City Hospital. He then joined the faculty of Case Western Reserve University, where he developed the first division of geographic medicine within a department of medicine, serving as a model for many US academic institutions.

In 1986, Dr. Carpenter was named physician-in-chief at The Miriam and professor of medicine at Brown. He established the Immunology Center at The Miriam, guided by the belief that all individuals diagnosed with HIV deserved access to the very best care available.

In the early years of the AIDS epidemic, Dr. Carpenter was one of the first to identify how the virus was spreading within prisons and becoming prevalent in women. In 1987, he initiated a unique program in which Miriam physicians assumed responsibility for all HIV care in the state’s prison system. This program continues today and includes elective rotations for medical students and trainees.

Research was also an integral part of Dr. Carpenter’s career. He was the principal investigator of the Providence/Boston Center for AIDS Research and the SUN study, a national, multisite project that is the first longitudinal study to attempt to understand the natural history of HIV in the era of effective treatment. He was also a member of Brown’s Fogarty AIDS International Program Executive Committee, training international fellows to provide clinical care and conduct research when they returned to their home countries.

Dr. Carpenter retired in 2015 and he and Sally moved to Falmouth, ME, to be closer to their children. He is survived by his wife; their three sons and seven grandchildren; his brother and two sisters; and countless colleagues and friends, some of whom share tributes here. Donations in his memory may be made to the Immunology Center Patient Assistance Fund at The Miriam Hospital or the Southern Poverty Law Center.


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