Dr Wayne Lamar Greaves, MD
Infectious Disease Specialist, Barbados
Wayne Greaves is a Barbadian Infectious Disease Specialist.
Early life and education
Wayne Lamar Greaves was born in the Parish of St Lucy, Barbados on 13 May 1950.
As a youth he was always interested in science and why things worked the way they did. In biology and the whole concept of life, why animals live and die, fascinated him.
His father, funeral director of Greaves Funeral Home, supported and encouraged him to seek a career in medicine.
Growing up in Barbados in the 1950s and 1960s where medical services were not as sophisticated as they are today, he entered the fields of science and medicine “to serve humanity rather than to make money” and care for people who were poor and suffering.
The former student of Harrison College emigrated to Canada and after receiving his medical training in Montreal, then moved to the United States where he spent two years at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, with a fellowship in infectious diseases, followed by two years at the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) as a sleuth tracking disease vectors, especially those that caused sexually transmitted diseases.
He earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from McGill University, Montreal. In addition to psychology classes he took science classes – physiology, biochemistry and genetics.
He learnt how the brain works. After receiving his psychology degree, he went to medical school at McGill.
His time at CDC was also spent in epidemiology (study of skin diseases), public health and immunization. He also worked with vaccine-preventable diseases such as rubella and measles.
“Then along came HIV/AIDS,” said Greaves. “It was a new disease that was unknown and exciting to understand.”
Greaves went to Howard University College of Medicine and spent the next decade researching AIDS and developing medical and societal methods for dealing with its spread and treatment.
“It was frustrating at first,” he recalls.
“In the early days, there was considerable denial that it was a problem affecting the African American community. It was seen as a gay, white disease and wasn’t talked about.”
greaves developed AIDS outreach and treatment programmes for adults and children at Howard and then went to Schering-Plough Corporation’s New Jersey research facilities in 1997 as a project director, seeking new drugs to treat AIDS in its early stages.
In this capacity he directed research at Schering-Plough’s facilities in the United States and abroad and interacted with affiliated laboratories around the world, pursuing innovative treatments and a cure for the HIV virus.
In 2006, while serving as senior director of clinical research with Schering-Plough, he was honoured with the President’s Award for his contribution to AIDS research.
He is one of the brains behind the three-in-one HIV/AIDS pill that has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for distribution in the States.
Greaves has served as associate professor of medicine at Howard University and practises internal medicine in Kenilworth, New Jersey.
He was described by the task force on AIDS as an “internationally renowned clinical scholar/researcher” and was cited for his work in the United States’ African American community.
He said there was a time when his work on the effects of AIDS among Blacks was ridiculed, so much so that he received several anonymous and threatening calls from people who didn’t like what he had to say.
Back in the mid-1980s he was the first researcher to warn the United States public health system that Blacks were suffering a disproportionately heavy burden from AIDS and urged federal officials to do more to reach African Americans with information and services.
Today, instead of being vilified, he is being praised.