Didier Raoult

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Didier Raoult
Didier Raoult.png
Born (1952-03-13) 13 March 1952 (age 68)
Spouse(s)Natacha Caïn
Scientific career
InstitutionsIHU Méditerranée Infection
Aix-Marseille University

Didier Raoult (French pronunciation: ​[didje ʁaul]; born 13 March 1952)[1] is a French physician and microbiologist specializing in infectious diseases. In 1984, Raoult created the Rickettsia Unit at Aix-Marseille University (AMU). He also teaches infectious diseases in the Faculty of Medicine of Aix-Marseille University. Since 2008, Raoult has been the director of the Unité de Recherche sur les Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales Emergentes. He gained significant worldwide attention during the COVID-19 pandemic for promoting hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the disease.

Personal life[edit]

Raoult was born in 13 March 1952 in Dakar, French West Africa (present-day Senegal). Raoult's father, who came from Brittany, was serving there as a military doctor;[2] his mother, originally from Marseille, was a nurse. His family returned to France in 1961, and settled in Marseille.[3] For a time, he was schooled in Nice, then he attended a boarding school in Briançon.[4]

Not being a good student,[2][5] Raoult repeated a year at high school, dropped out in the second year to join the French merchant marine, on a boat called Renaissance, and spent the next two years at sea.[5][6][7]

In 1972, he sat his baccalauréat in literature as a free candidate, and gained entrance into the medical faculty in Marseille.[8] Believing in a family tradition in medicine, Raoult senior refused to pay for the studies in any other subject.[2] Raoult had wanted to become an obstetrician after qualifying, but this choice was denied him because he did not make the grade in his Internship examination. Instead, he specialised in infectious diseases in the footsteps of his great-grandfather Paul Legendre (1854–1936).[9][10][11]

In 1982, Raoult married psychiatrist and novelist Natacha Caïn (born 1960).[12] They have two children together.[13]


Since 2008, Raoult has been the director of the Unité de Recherche sur les Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales Emergentes, (URMITE; in English, Infectious and Tropical Emergent Diseases Research Unit), which employs more than 200 people.[14]

Didier Raoult initiated the construction of a new building to host the Institut hospitalo-universitaire (IHU) Méditerranée Infection.[15] The IHU Mediterranée Infection, which opened in early 2017,[16] is dedicated to the management and study of infectious diseases and combines diagnostic, care, research and teaching activities in one location.[17]

He was awarded the "Grand prix de l'Inserm" in 2010;[18] Raoult was awarded the "Grand Prix scientifique de la Fondation Louis D." of the Institut de France in 2015; he shared the €450,000 prize with biologist Chris Bowler from the Institut de Biologie de l'Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris;[19] the bacteria genus Raoultella was named in his honor.[20]


Raoult has more than 2,300 indexed publications.[21] As of 2008, he was "classified among the ten leading French researchers by the journal Nature, for the number of his publications (a credit of more than two thousand) and for his citations number".[22] In 2014, according to ISI Web of Knowledge, he is the most cited microbiologist in Europe, and the seventh worldwide.[23][24]

According to the Thomson Reuters source "Highly Cited Researchers List", Raoult is among the most influential researchers in his field and his publications are among the 1% most consulted in academic journals. He is one of the 99 most cited microbiologists in the world and one of the 73 most highly cited French scientists.[25] He is a world reference for Q fever and Whipple's disease.[26] As of April 2017, he had over 104,000 citations and an h-index of 148.[27] He is also on the list of the 400 most cited authors in the biomedical world.[28]

Raoult's extremely high publication rate results from his "attaching his name to nearly every paper that comes out of his institute",[29] a practice that has been called "grossly unethical" by Steven Salzberg.[30] Since 2013 he has been one of the oversea scientists co-afflliated to the King Abdulaziz University of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia,[31][32] known to "offer highly cited researchers lucrative adjunct professorships, with minimal requirements for them to be physically present, in return for being listed by them as a secondary affiliation", and so increase its own institutional citation index.[33]

It was reported that of the 1,836 articles published by Raoult between 1995 and 2020 (amounting to more than 120 a year), 230 were published in 2 reviews edited by Michel Drancourt who is his right hand man at the IHU and colleague for over 35 years. Members of his staff have editorial functions at almost half of the revues that have published his work. It has been suggested that the way that health institutes obtain funding by linking it to the number of publications made by the institute may be at the root of the large number of publications.[34]


American Society for Microbiology publishing ban[edit]

In 2006, Raoult and four co-authors were banned for one year from publishing in the journals of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), after a reviewer for Infection and Immunity discovered that four figures from the revised manuscript of a paper about a mouse model for typhus were identical to figures from the originally submitted manuscript, even though they were supposed to represent a different experiment.[35] In response, Raoult "resigned from the editorial board of two other ASM journals, canceled his membership in the American Academy of Microbiology, ASM’s honorific leadership group, and banned his lab from submitting to ASM journals".[35] In response to Science covering the story in 2012, he stated that, "I did not manage the paper and did not even check the last version".[36] The paper was subsequently published in a different journal.[37]


On 17 March 2020, Raoult announced in an online video that a trial involving 24 patients from southeast France supported the claim that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin were effective in treating for COVID-19.[38] On 20 March, he published a preliminary report of his study online in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents.[39]  The French Health Minister, Olivier Véran, was reported as announcing that "new tests will now go ahead in order to evaluate the results by Professor Raoult, in an attempt to independently replicate the trials and ensure the findings are scientifically robust enough, before any possible decision might be made to roll any treatment out to the wider public".[40] Veran refused to endorse the study conducted by Raoult and the possible health ramifications, on the basis of a single study conducted on 24 people.[41]

The French media also reported that the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi had offered French authorities millions of doses of the drug for use against COVID-19.[40] On 3 April, the International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, which publishes the journal, issued a statement that the report on the non-blind, non-randomized study "does not meet the Society's expected standard, especially relating to the lack of better explanations of the inclusion criteria and the triage of patients to ensure patient safety."[42].

Raoult was one of 11 prominent scientists named on 11 March to a committee to advise on scientific matters pertaining to the epidemic in France.[43] He did not attend any of the meetings and resigned from the committee on 24 March saying that he refused to participate.[44] He denounced the "absence of anything scientific sound," and criticised its members for "not having a clue."[45][46] He defended chloroquine as a benchmark drug for lung diseases, saying that it had suddenly been declared dangerous after having been safely used for 80 years.[45]

Further studies in Marseille, France with a sample of 3,737 COVID-19 patients suggest early treatment with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin lead to a significantly better clinical outcome and a faster viral load reduction than other treatments.[47] Other trials, such as the RECOVERY Trial did not find significant improvement.

Selected papers[edit]

Honours and awards[edit]


  1. ^ "Coronavirus et hydroxychloroquine : Le professeur Raoult publie une nouvelle étude, aussitôt critiquée". Le Monde. 28 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Olivia Recasens (1 January 2009). Rencontre avec un chercheur de microbes (in French). pp. 56–59.
  3. ^ "Coronavirus : qui est Didier Raoult, la "star mondiale" de la microbiologie qui assure avoir trouvé le remède contre le Covid-19 ?". Franceinfo (in French). 28 March 2020. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  4. ^ Gilles Rof (25 March 2020). "Didier Raoult, l'infectiologue marseillais derrière la folie planétaire autour de l'hydroxychloroquine". Le Monde.fr. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  5. ^ a b Pierre Le Hir (19 November 2010). "Chasseur de microbes". Le Monde.fr. 'J'étais un mauvais élève, agité, aux bulletins scolaires effarants', raconte-t-il. Abonné aux redoublements, il abandonne le lycée en classe de 1re, en 1968
  6. ^ "Didier Raoult, le "pêcheur de microbes" à l'assaut du Covid-19". Sciences et Avenir. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  7. ^ Zaretsky, Robert (30 March 2020). "The Trumpian French Doctor Behind the Chloroquine Hype". Slate.
  8. ^ Portrait par l'INSERM – 2010 : fichier pdf (source: [1])
  9. ^ Catherine Lallement, « LE GENDRE Louis Paul, Docteur », La France savante, CTHS, en ligne.
  10. ^ "Didier Raoult, urgence oblige". Paris Match (in French). 3 April 2020.
  11. ^ « Paul Legendre, le premier infectiologue, qui créa l’hôpital des contagieux de la porte d’Aubervilliers, à Paris (...). » cf. Vaudoit 2018, chap.II
  12. ^ "Didier Raoult: Who is his wife, Natacha?". Closermag.fr, 11 April 2020.
  13. ^ "La biographie de Didier Raoult". Didierraoult.com. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  14. ^ "Liste de résultats". bases-brevets.inpi.fr (in French). Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  15. ^ Méditerranée Infection 10-IAHU-03
  16. ^ "Accueil – IHU Méditerranée Infection". mediterranee-infection.com (in French). Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  17. ^ "Missions et objectifs – IHU Méditerranée Infection". mediterranee-infection.com (in French). Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  18. ^ histoire. "Prix 2010 / Histoire de l'Inserm". histoire.inserm.fr (in French). Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  19. ^ Didier Raoult – website of the Institut de France
  20. ^ Drancourt, M; Bollet, C; Carta, A; Rousselier, P (May 2001). "Phylogenetic analyses of Klebsiella species delineate Klebsiella and Raoultella gen. nov., with description of Raoultella ornithinolytica comb. nov., Raoultella terrigena comb. nov. and Raoultella planticola comb. nov". International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. 51 (Pt 3): 925–32. doi:10.1099/00207713-51-3-925. PMID 11411716.
  21. ^ Search Results for author Raoult D on PubMed.
  22. ^ "Didier Raoult, a voluntary researcher". Les Échos. 29 October 2008. p. 13.
  23. ^ "Meet the Editor-in-Chief". elsevier.com. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  24. ^ "Didier Raoult – Biographie". fnac.com (in French). Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  25. ^ "HCR Clarivate Analytics". Archived from the original on 15 November 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  26. ^ Science et Santé magazine nº 1er décembre 2010 p. 14
  27. ^ "Didier Raoult – Citations Google Scholar". Google Scholar. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  28. ^ Boyack, Kevin W; Klavans, Richard; Sorensen, Aaron A; Ioannidis, John P.A (2013). "A list of highly influential biomedical researchers, 1996-2011". European Journal of Clinical Investigation. 43 (12): 1339–65. doi:10.1111/eci.12171. PMID 24134636. S2CID 13259290.
  29. ^ Sayare, Scott (12 May 2020). "He Was a Science Star. Then He Promoted a Questionable Cure for Covid-19". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  30. ^ Salzberg, Steven. "What Do Trump And Yale Medical School Have In Common? Both Were Duped About A COVID-19 Treatment". Forbes. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  31. ^ Research, Vice Presidency for Graduate Studies and Scientific. "Prof Didier Raoult visits KAU". gssr.kau.edu.sa. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  32. ^ Pagnier, Isabelle; Reteno, Dorine-Gaelle Ikanga; Saadi, Hanene (2013). "A Decade of Improvements in Mimiviridae and Marseilleviridae Isolation from Amoeba". pp. 354–363. doi:10.1159/000354556. ISSN 1423-0100. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  33. ^ "New study raises questions about global rankings of citations". www.insidehighered.com. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  34. ^ Point.fr, Le (12 June 2020). "Interrogations sur la frénésie de publications du professeur Raoult". Le Point (in French). Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  35. ^ a b Mary, C. (2 March 2012). "Sound and Fury in the Microbiology Lab". Science. 335 (6072): 1033–1035. Bibcode:2012Sci...335.1033M. doi:10.1126/science.335.6072.1033. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 22383821.
  36. ^ "Corrections and Clarifications". Science. 336 (6078): 155. 13 April 2012. doi:10.1126/science.336.6078.155-b. ISSN 0036-8075. PMC 56630.
  37. ^ Bechah, Yassina; Capo, Christian; Grau, Georges E.; Raoult, Didier; Mege, Jean-Louis (June 2007). "A murine model of infection with Rickettsia prowazekii: implications for pathogenesis of epidemic typhus". Microbes and Infection. 9 (7): 898–906. doi:10.1016/j.micinf.2007.03.008. ISSN 1286-4579. PMID 17537665.
  38. ^ France, Connexion. "French researcher posts successful Covid-19 drug trial". connexionfrance.com. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  39. ^ Gautret, Philippe; et al. (20 March 2020) [Online ahead of print]. "Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a treatment of COVID-19: results of an open-label non-randomized clinical trial". International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents: 105949. doi:10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2020.105949. PMC 7102549. PMID 32205204.
  40. ^ a b France, Connexion. "French lab offers 'millions of doses' of Covid-19 drug". connexionfrance.com. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  41. ^ "In France, controversial doctor stirs coronavirus debate". Politco.com. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  42. ^ Grens, Kerry (9 April 2020). "Journal Publisher Concerned over Hydroxychloroquine Study". The Scientist. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  43. ^ "Coronavirus Covid-19 : qui est dans le conseil scientifique du ministre de la Santé ?". Sciences et Avenir. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  44. ^ "Didier Raoult claque la porte du Conseil scientifique de Macron". Les Echos. 24 March 2020. Retrieved 24 March 2020..
  45. ^ a b ""Le consensus, c'est Pétain" : le professeur Raoult s'en prend au Conseil scientifique et à sa gestion du Covid-19". Franceinfo. 30 April 2020.
  46. ^ "Chloroquine, conseil scientifique, vaccin... Didier Raoult se lâche dans "Paris Match"". midilibre.fr. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  47. ^ "Outcomes of 3,737 COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine/azithromycin and other regimens in Marseille, France: A retrospective analysis". Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. 25 June 2020. doi:10.1016/j.tmaid.2020.101791. ISSN 1477-8939. Retrieved 27 July 2020.

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