Dr. Courtenay Felix Bartholomew

Dr. Courtenay Bartholomew was a Trinidadian research physician who was the first to diagnose AIDS in the English-speaking Caribbean. He grew up in Port of Spain, Trinidad and loved studying the sciences as a child. He interned at St. Vincent Hospital and obtained an Internal Medicine specialization (1960) from University College Dublin (UCD). He also obtained a specialty degree in Gastroenterology (1964) and MD (1965) from the National University of Ireland. He did a Gastroenterology Fellowship at the Royal Victoria Hospital and McGill University. He became the first Lecturer in Medicine (1967) and then first Professor of Medicine (1977) at the University of the West Indies (UWI). He conducted research on internal diseases, completed the world’s largest Hepatitis A and B survey, and would become globally renowned for his work on pancreatitis. 

Just before the height of the AIDS epidemic, Dr. Bartholomew was the first physician to diagnose AIDS in the Caribbean. He founded and directed the Medical Research Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (MRFTT), helping many patients. He spearheaded retrovirus and cancer research, as well as HIV vaccine trials and partnerships with US institutions. He was one of the first Caribbean physicians that championed AIDS education. He had more than 75 publications and written chapters in seven medical textbooks. He repeatedly made history as he was the first Caribbean to receive a membership of the Royal College of Physicians, London without examination (1983); UCD’s Honorary Fellowship of the Faculty of Medicine (2004); and the International Human Retrovirology Society Award (1991). He also held visiting clinical professor roles at the Liver Unit at the University of Miami (UM) and Gastroenterology at the Royal Victoria Hospital at McGill University (RVH). He passed away at the age of 89.


  1. https://icons.niherst.gov.tt/icon/courtenay-bartholomew-ci1/
  2. https://www.guardian.co.tt/news/prof-courtenay-bartholomew-6.2.1326167.01bf39cf82
  3. catholictt.org/2021/05/19/thoughts-and-memories-of-our-dad-prof-courtenay-bartholomew/
  4. https://tt.loopnews.com/content/professor-courtenay-bartholomew-dies
  5. https://www.trinituner.com/v4/forums/viewtopic.php?t=761776
  6. https://newsday.co.tt/2021/05/08/medical-fraternity-mourns-loss-of-prof-bartholomew/