Dr. Barfield is a pediatric oncologist with an interest in the intersection of medicine, philosophy and theology. His medical research focuses on immune therapies for childhood cancer (including bone marrow transplantation and antibody therapy) and improvement of the quality of life for children with severe or fatal diseases. His work in philosophy focuses on ethics and the history of the impact of literature on philosophical thought.

In the Divinity School, Dr. Barfield interacts with students and faculty members bridging medicine, philosophy and theology. As director of pediatric palliative care for Duke, he works closely with the Institute for Care at the End of Life advancing interdisciplinary research, teaching and service by drawing on the strengths of both the Medical School and the Divinity School.