His Passions: AIDS, Africa and Anglicanism

Nathan Thielman's passions are met in his work at Duke in global health

Nathan Thielman, left, at KIWAKUKKI (Women Against AIDS in Kilimanjaro) an organization providing HIV education and prevention, home based care, and orphan support throughout the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania. Photo courtesy of Nathan Thielman.

Name: Nathan Thielman

Position: Associate Professor of Medicine, Global Health and Pathology

Years at Duke: 11

What I do at Duke:  I treat patients with infectious diseases, I conduct HIV/AIDS research and I direct training activities for residents and fellows engaged in global health research.

To start a conversation with me, ask about:  AIDS, Africa, or Anglicanism. My wife says you can reduce my passions to those three As. I'm drawn to researching the fascinating psychosocial and cultural issues that affect the epidemiology of HIV/AIDS and individual patient outcomes. I fell in love with Africa when I worked in a hospital in Kenya after my second year of college. I went back to Africa as a medical resident, and my research and training activities at Duke keep me going back. My passion for Anglicanism is simply that I take my faith seriously. My wife and I are very involved in the life of a local Anglican church.

The last book I read: "The Hunger Games," by Suzanne Collins. Our family listened to an audiorecording at the suggestion of my daughter, MaryMac, on our drive to Florida for spring break.

When I'm not at work I like to: Fish in local lakes, especially with my son Hayes. 

What I love about Duke: Being surrounded by intelligent people who stimulate me to think in new and different ways. Each Friday I join an interdisciplinary research meeting where we often have a health economist, an epidemiologist, a psychologist, a health policy expert and several clinicians, all focused on understanding and responding to health disparities. I also love that the Duke Global Health Institute has given me a home in which I can nurture two of my passions: Africa and AIDS.

My first paid job: When I was a teenager I was an announcer at WFGW, a radio station in western North Carolina. I was young enough that my parents had to drive me to work.

If I had $5 million I would:  Invest it in Africa, probably in medical education or policy-relevant research.

The best advice I've received: When I was an intern at Duke, someone told me the only mistake I could make was not to ask someone if I had a question.

If I could have one superpower it would be: The ability to grasp anything intellectually.

Something most people don't know about me: That I can be obsessed with playing Scramble on the iPhone against my wife. She usually wins.

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