Didier Raoult

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Didier Raoult
Didier Raoult au 1er Cercle franco-chinois.png
Raoult in 2021
Born (1952-03-13) 13 March 1952 (age 70)
SpouseNatacha Caïn
Scientific career
Infectious disease
InstitutionsIHU Méditerranée Infection
Aix-Marseille University

Didier Raoult (French pronunciation: ​[didje ʁa.ul(t)]; born 13 March 1952)[1] is a French physician and microbiologist specialising in infectious diseases. He taught about infectious diseases at the Faculty of Medicine of Aix-Marseille University (AMU), and in 1984, created the Rickettsia Unit of the 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 vocally promoting hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the disease, despite the lack of evidence for its effectiveness and the consequent NIH and WHO's opposition to its use for the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients.[2][3]

Personal life[edit]

Raoult was born on 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;[4] his mother, originally from Marseille, was a nurse. His family returned to France in 1961, and settled in Marseille.[5] He was for a time schooled in Nice, then attended a boarding school in Briançon.[6]

A poor student,[4][7] Raoult repeated a year at high school, then dropped out in the second year of high school to board a French merchant ship called Renaissance and spent the next two years at sea.[7][8][9]

In 1972, he sat his baccalauréat in literature as an independent candidate, and registered at the medical school in Marseille.[10] Believing in a family tradition in medicine, Raoult senior refused to pay for his studies in any other subject.[4] Raoult had wanted to become an obstetrician after qualifying, but his grade in the internship examination was too low for that choice. He specialised instead in infectious diseases, in the footsteps of his great-grandfather Paul Legendre (1854–1936).[11][12][13]

In 1982, Raoult married psychiatrist and novelist Natacha Caïn (born 1960).[14] They have two children,[15] and Raoult has an estranged daughter from a previous marriage, angiologist Magali Carcopino-Tusoli.[16]


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.[17] He is slated to leave this post before September 1st 2022, after being allowed to stay on for at most one year after retiring from his professor position on August 31, 2021.[18][19]

Raoult was awarded the Grand prix de l'Inserm in 2010 [20] and shared the €450,000 prize of the Grand Prix scientifique de la Fondation Louis D. of the Institut de France in 2015 with biologist Chris Bowler from the Institut de Biologie de l'Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris.[21] The bacteria genus Raoultella was named in his honor.[22]

Raoult initiated the construction of a new building to host the Institut hospitalo-universitaire (IHU) Méditerranée Infection.[23] The IHU Mediterranée Infection, which opened in early 2017,[24] is dedicated to the management and study of infectious diseases and combines diagnostic, care, research and teaching activities in one location.[25]

In May 2022 the French medicines agency ANSM announced it would file charges against the IHU for potentially criminal research misconduct during the COVID-19 pandemic.[26]

In June 2022, ANSM implemented "a series of particularly severe sanctions" against the Raoult-led IHU.[27]

In September 2022 it was reported that Raoult's laboratory was being investigated by the Aix-Marseille University for “serious malfunctions,” that in response to this "scientific misconduct investigation by the University of Aix Marseille" four papers from Raoult’s group appearing in journals published by the American Society for Microbiology had received expressions of concern, and that a criminal investigation had been initiated.[28]


Raoult has more than 2,300 indexed publications.[29] As of 2008, he was "classified among the ten leading French researchers by the journal Nature, for the number of his publications (more than two thousand) and for his citation number".[30] According to ISI Web of Knowledge, he was the most cited microbiologist in Europe in 2014, and the seventh worldwide.[31][32] 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.[33] He is a world reference for Q fever and Whipple's disease.[34] As of January 2022, he had over 194,000 citations and an h-index of 197.[35] He is also on the list of the 400 most cited authors in the biomedical world.[36] Raoult is also one of the 7.3% most self-cited authors, more that 25% of his citations coming from papers he co-authored.[37]

Yet, Raoult's extremely uncommon and high publication rate results from his "attaching his name to nearly every paper that comes out of his institute",[38] a practice that has been called "grossly unethical" by Steven Salzberg.[39] Since 2013 he has been one of the overseas scientists co-affiliated with the King Abdulaziz University of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia,[40][41] 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.[42]

230 of the 1,836 articles published by Raoult between 1995 and 2020 (amounting to over 120 a year, or approximately one article every three days) were published in two journals edited by Michel Drancourt, who is his right-hand man at the IHU and has been his close collaborator for over 35 years. Members of his staff have editorial functions at almost half of the journals that have published his work. The funding of French health institutes according to their number of publications has been suggested to be at the root of his large number of publications.[43]


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.[44] 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".[44] 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".[45] The paper was subsequently published in a different journal.[46]


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.[47] On 20 March, he published a preliminary report of his study online in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents.[48]  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".[49] Véran refused to endorse the study conducted by Raoult and the possible health ramifications, on the basis of a single study conducted on 24 people.[50]

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.[49] 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."[51]

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.[52] He did not attend any of the meetings and resigned from the committee on 24 March saying that he refused to participate.[53] He denounced the "absence of anything scientifically sound", and criticised its members for "not having a clue".[54][55] 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.[54] Following reports and a complaint filed in July by the French-speaking Society of Infectious Pathology (Spilf), the departmental council of the French Order of Physicians opened a formal case against Didier Raoult.[56]

Accusations of falsified images, and legal threats[edit]

On May 5, 2021, Elisabeth Bik (who specializes in identifying manipulated images in scientific papers) raised concerns about dozens of Raoult's papers—including ethical, procedural, and methodological problems in a March 2020 paper reporting success in a small hydroxychloroquine trial. Raoult's lawyer subsequently announced that Raoult was accusing and suing the scientific integrity consultant of harassment and blackmail. The French non-profit association Citizen4Science, formed by scientists and citizens, published a press release and a petition that day, denouncing the harassment of scientists and defenders of science integrity,[57] specifically defending Bik and calling on French authorities to intervene and for journalists to look into the matter. Several French newspapers immediately reported Citizen4Science's initiative.[58][59][60][61] The petition was signed by thousands of scientists and others throughout the world. By May 22, 2021 Raoult had begun legal proceedings against Bik.[62] There followed various articles in international mainstream media supporting Bik,[63] and an article in Science updated on June 4, 2021 in issue 6546, reporting over 3,000 signatures for the Citizen4Science petition.[64]

On May 18, 2021, Lonni Besançon, a French postdoctoral research fellow at Monash University, wrote an open letter supporting Elisabeth Bik.[65] The letter was co-signed by more than 2200 scientists and 30 scholarly societies.[66]

On June 1, 2021, CNRS published a press release[67] denouncing the "judiciarization of controversy and scientific debates", condemning Raoult's legal proceedings against Elisabeth Bik. On June 10, 2021 French Senator Bernard Jomier carried the Citizen4Science press release and petition to the French Senate through a written question to French Minister of Health Olivier Véran, requiring action to protect bearers of science integrity.[68]

Illegal clinical trials[edit]

In October 2021, the Mediapart online investigative journal brought to light illegal clinical trials of a treatment against tuberculosis, which Raoult and IHU had been conducting since 2017. The trial was started without seeking the mandatory approval of the French clinical trial regulator, and continued despite its strenuous objections to its protocol when they eventually sought permission. Many of the patients in the trial were minors, homeless, or illegal residents, and therefore could not legally consent to a trial. Several suffered severe side effects such as kidney failure from the known toxicity of one of the four antibiotics combined in the trial, and at least one patient contaminated several family members because the treatment was simultaneously ineffective and poorly monitored by IHU.[69][70] A subsequent investigation by the French drug safety agency (ANSM) identified grave ethics and safety breaches in IHU clinical trials. Its report was forwarded to the Marseille prosecutor for potential criminal prosecution, and ANSM additionally threatened to suspend all on-going clinical trials at IHU.[71] The prosecutor opened a formal inquiry for falsification and forgery of documentation and for unjustified medical procedures.[72]

Honours and awards[edit]


  1. ^ "Coronavirus et hydroxychloroquine : Le professeur Raoult publie une nouvelle étude, aussitôt critiquée". Le Monde. 28 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Chloroquine or Hydroxychloroquine".
  3. ^ "WHO discontinues hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/Ritonavir treatment arms for COVID-19".
  4. ^ a b c Olivia Recasens (1 January 2009). Rencontre avec un chercheur de microbes (in French). pp. 56–59.
  5. ^ "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.
  6. ^ Gilles Rof (25 March 2020). "Didier Raoult, l'infectiologue marseillais derrière la folie planétaire autour de l'hydroxychloroquine". Le Monde. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  7. ^ a b Pierre Le Hir (19 November 2010). "Chasseur de microbes". Le Monde. '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
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  9. ^ Zaretsky, Robert (30 March 2020). "The Trumpian French Doctor Behind the Chloroquine Hype". Slate.
  10. ^ Portrait par l'INSERM – 2010 : fichier pdf (source: [1])
  11. ^ Catherine Lallement, « LE GENDRE Louis Paul, Docteur », La France savante, CTHS, en ligne.
  12. ^ "Didier Raoult, urgence oblige". Paris Match (in French). 3 April 2020.
  13. ^ « Paul Legendre, le premier infectiologue, qui créa l'hôpital des contagieux de la porte d'Aubervilliers, à Paris (...). » cf. Vaudoit 2018, chap.II
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  19. ^ Sossa, Désiré (September 2021). "France: Didier Raoult restera un an de plus à l'IHU malgré sa retraite" (in French). La Nouvelle Tribune. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
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  23. ^ Méditerranée Infection 10-IAHU-03
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  26. ^ Casassus B (2022). "French research institute faces criminal charges over "serious breaches"". BMJ. 377: o1117. doi:10.1136/bmj.o1117. PMID 35508313. S2CID 248507288.
  27. ^ Garcia, Victor (13 June 2022). "IHU : l'ANSM prononce de sévères sanctions contre l'institut de Didier Raoult". L'Express. L'Express. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  28. ^ Marcus, Adam (8 September 2022). "Didier Raoult papers earn expressions of concern as criminal investigation gets underway". Retraction Watch. Center for Scientific Integrity. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  29. ^ Search Results for author Raoult D on PubMed.
  30. ^ "Didier Raoult, a voluntary researcher". Les Échos. 29 October 2008. p. 13.
  31. ^ "Meet the Editor-in-Chief". elsevier.com. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  32. ^ "Didier Raoult – Biographie". fnac.com (in French). Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  33. ^ "HCR Clarivate Analytics". Archived from the original on 15 November 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  34. ^ Science et Santé magazine nº 1er décembre 2010 p. 14
  35. ^ "Didier Raoult – Citations Google Scholar". Google Scholar. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
  36. ^ Boyack, Kevin W; Klavans, Richard; Sorensen, Aaron A; Ioannidis, John PA (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.
  37. ^ Ioannidis, John PA; Baas, Jeroen; Klavans, Richard; Boyack, Kevin W (2019). "A standardized citation metrics author database annotated for scientific field". PLOS Biology. 17 (8): e3000384. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3000384. PMC 6699798. PMID 31404057.
  38. ^ 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.
  39. ^ 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.
  40. ^ Research, Vice Presidency for Graduate Studies and Scientific. "Prof Didier Raoult visits KAU". gssr.kau.edu.sa. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  41. ^ Pagnier, Isabelle; Reteno, Dorine-Gaelle Ikanga; Saadi, Hanene (2013). "A Decade of Improvements in Mimiviridae and Marseilleviridae Isolation from Amoeba". Intervirology. 56 (6): 354–363. doi:10.1159/000354556. ISSN 1423-0100. PMID 24157882. S2CID 19392983. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
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  43. ^ "Interrogations sur la frénésie de publications du professeur Raoult". Le Point (in French). 12 June 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  44. ^ 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.
  45. ^ "Corrections and Clarifications". Science. 336 (6078): 155. 13 April 2012. doi:10.1126/science.336.6078.155-b. ISSN 0036-8075. PMC 56630.
  46. ^ 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.
  47. ^ France, Connexion. "French researcher posts successful Covid-19 drug trial". connexionfrance.com. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  48. ^ 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. 56 (1): 105949. doi:10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2020.105949. PMC 7102549. PMID 32205204.
  49. ^ a b France, Connexion. "French lab offers 'millions of doses' of Covid-19 drug". connexionfrance.com. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  50. ^ "In France, controversial doctor stirs coronavirus debate". Politico. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  51. ^ Grens, Kerry (9 April 2020). "Journal Publisher Concerned over Hydroxychloroquine Study". The Scientist. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  52. ^ "Coronavirus Covid-19 : qui est dans le conseil scientifique du ministre de la Santé ?". Sciences et Avenir. 16 March 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  53. ^ "Didier Raoult claque la porte du Conseil scientifique de Macron". Les Echos. 24 March 2020. Retrieved 24 March 2020..
  54. ^ 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.
  55. ^ "Chloroquine, conseil scientifique, vaccin... Didier Raoult se lâche dans "Paris Match"". midilibre.fr. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  56. ^ à 09h51, Par Louise Colcombet et Elsa MariLe 12 novembre 2020; À 14h40, Modifié Le 12 Novembre 2020 (12 November 2020). "Le professeur Didier Raoult poursuivi par l'Ordre des médecins". Le Parisien (in French). Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  57. ^ p, More profit on; Dit, Emic-Ocasapiens (5 May 2021). "PRESS RELEASE #5". Citizen4Science (in French). Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  58. ^ "Karine Lacombe : "Si on fait comme si l'épidémie était finie, la gifle risque d'être forte"". LExpress.fr (in French). 12 May 2021. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  59. ^ LIBERATION; AFP. "Le Sommet sur les économies africaines demande la levée des brevets sur les vaccins contre le Covid-19". Libération (in French). Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  60. ^ "Didier Raoult entame un bras de fer judiciaire contre une spécialiste de l'intégrité scientifique". Le Monde.fr (in French). 18 May 2021. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  61. ^ "Pourquoi Didier Raoult porte plainte contre Elisabeth Bik, la chasseuse de fraude". www.heidi.news (in French). Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  62. ^ "World expert in scientific misconduct faces legal action for challenging integrity of hydroxychloroquine study". The Guardian. 22 May 2021. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  63. ^ Dieng, Cheikh (23 May 2021). "Covid-19: des scientifiques internationaux déclarent la guerre à Raoult et l'accusent de harcèlement". Le courrier du soir (in French). Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  64. ^ O'Grady, Cathleen (4 June 2021). "Image sleuth faces legal threats". Science. 372 (6546): 1021–1022. Bibcode:2021Sci...372.1021O. doi:10.1126/science.372.6546.1021. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 34083467. S2CID 235334811.
  65. ^ Besançon, Lonni; Samuel, Alexander; Sana, Thibault; Rebeaud, Mathieu; Guihur, Anthony; Robinson-Rechavi, Marc; Berre, Nicolas Le; Mulot, Matthieu; Meyerowitz-Katz, Gideon; Maisonneuve; Nosek, Brian A (18 May 2021). Open letter: Scientists stand up to protect academic whistleblowers and post-publication peer review. doi:10.31219/osf.io/2awsv. S2CID 243194323. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  66. ^ Besançon, Lonni; Samuel, Alexander; Sana, Thibault; Rebeaud, Mathieu; Guihur, Anthony; Robinson-Rechavi, Marc; Berre, Nicolas Le; Mulot, Matthieu; Meyerowitz-Katz, Gideon; Maisonneuve; Nosek, Brian A (8 May 2021). Supplementary materials of "Open letter: Scientists stand up to protect academic whistleblowers and post-publication peer review". doi:10.17605/OSF.IO/ZKX5H. S2CID 236542185. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  67. ^ "The courtroom is not a laboratory" (Press release). CNRS. 7 June 2021.
  68. ^ "Site du sénat". www.senat.fr. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  69. ^ "Essais "sauvages" sur la tuberculose à l'IHU : que reproche-t-on à Didier Raoult ?".
  70. ^ "" Expérimentation sauvage " contre la tuberculose à l'IHU de Marseille : une enquête interne confirme que l'essai n'était pas approuvé". Le Monde.fr. 27 October 2021.
  71. ^ ""Les inspections menées au sein de l'IHU du professeur Raoult révèlent de « graves manquements éthiques »"". Le Monde.fr. 27 May 2022.
  72. ^ ""Le successeur de Didier Raoult suspend les essais cliniques à l'IHU Méditerranée"". Libe.fr. 7 September 2022.
  73. ^ "Didier Raoult prophète en « son » Sénégal ?". jeuneafrique.com (in French). 3 January 2021. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  74. ^ "French scientist Didier Raoult given Rusty Razor Award for pseudoscience". skeptic.org.uk. 19 November 2020. Retrieved 11 May 2021.

External links[edit]