|Alma mater||University of Leuven (PhD)|
|Known for||Ebola discovery, prevention & treatment|
|Awards||Nature's 10 (2019)|
Royal Society Africa Prize (2015)
|Institutions||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
National Institute for Biomedical Research
|Thesis||Mode d'action des inducteurs d'interferon non-viraux dans une infection virale de la souris (1973)|
Jean-Jacques Muyembe is a Congolese microbiologist. He is the General Director of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Institut National pour la Recherche Biomedicale (INRB). He was part of team at the Yambuku Catholic Mission Hospital that investigated the first Ebola outbreak, and was part of the effort that discovered Ebola as a new disease, although his exact role is still subject to controversy. In 2016, he led the research that designed, along with other researchers at the INRB and the National Institute of Health Vaccine Research Center in the US, one of the most promising treatment for Ebola, mAb114. The treatment was successfully experimented during recent outbreaks in the DRC, on the express decision of the then DRC Minister of Health, Dr Oly Ilunga, despite a prior negative advice from the World Health Organization.
Early life and education
Muyembe grew up in Bandundu Province, the child of farmers. He was educated in schools run by Jesuits. He studied medicine, starting in 1962, at the Lovanium University in the Belgian Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo) where he became interested in microbiology and graduated in 1969. He earned a PhD in virology at the University of Leuven in Belgium, working on viral infections with mouse models. He returned to Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1973 and worked in outbreak control. In 1974 there was a cholera outbreak in Matadi, which was the first crisis that Muyembe worked on.
Muyembe was described by The Lancet as Africa's Ebola hunter. He first came across ebola virus in 1976 at a Belgian hospital in Yambuku. Using a long steel rod, Muyembe took liver biopsies from three nuns who had died, but the results were inconclusive. He was the first scientist to come into contact with the virus and survive. Muyembe has been described as one of the discoverers of Ebola due to his work in the 1976 outbreak. He took the blood of a sick nurse, which was sent for analysis at the Institute for Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, then to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where Peter Piot used the sample to discover Ebola. That version of events was later refuted in a 2016 scientific article he co-signed with some of the remaining actors of that first epidemic.
He was appointed the Dean of the University of Kinshasa Medical School in 1978. In 1981 Muyembe joined the Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal, working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the ebola and marburg virus. In 1998 he was made the Director of the Democratic Republic of the Congo National Institute for Biomedical Research.
He has acted as an adviser to the World Health Organization Emergency Committee on Ebola. Here he leads 15 researchers studying sleeping sickness, bas-Congo virus and the ebola. He has advised political leadership in West Africa.
He recognised the sociocultural challenges of ebola, trying to encourage hospitals improve their infection control and community engagement. He worked with David L. Heymann on the ebola outbreak in 1995. He was called by the Director of the Kikwit General Hospital who was asking for help with an outbreak of deadly diarrhea. When Muyembe arrived, he recognised it was ebola, and sent samples for confirmation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He has chaired the international committees that looked to control the Ebola outbreaks in Gabon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He leads research into the reservoirs of the ebola virus in the DRC. In 2009, he demonstrated that the ebola outbreaks in the DRC were due to fruit bat exposure. He has developed an anti-Ebola serum therapy . The anti-ebola serum therapy, using antibodies from convalescent patients, was first tried by another medical team during the 1976 outbreak in Yambuku and subsequently recommended for future outbreaks by the International Commission set up by the Government of DRC (formerly Zaïre).
There was a further ebola outbreak in 2018, which took time to control due to delays in reporting. The Wellcome Trust and Department for International Development donated £1 million each. He pioneered the use of an experimental ebola vaccine during the outbreak to limit the spread of the virus, including vaccinating health professionals.. That position on the use of experimental drugs during outbreaks stirred some heated debate in the DRC, with Dr Oly Ilunga eventually resigning from his position as the Minister of Health, citing undue pressure and interference from unnamed multinational pharmaceutical firms.
Muyembe has established multiple research facilities, including a polio and influenza lab. In 2017 he partnered with the Japan International Cooperation Agency to build a research complex with several biosafety labs. As of 2018, the DRC still have none of their own labs to test for ebola.
On April 3, 2020, during a press conference in Kinshasa, Muyembe advocated for the trial in DRC of experimental vaccines against the Covid-19 virus in the midst of a major pandemic, generating a serious backlash from the congolese population. He eventually backtracked, claiming a misunderstanding.
Awards and honours
In 2015 he was awarded the Christophe Mérieux Prize to study further research in the Congo Basin. That year he was awarded the Royal Society Africa Prize "for his seminal work on viral haemorrhagic fevers, including Ebola, generating the foundation of our understanding of the epidemiology, clinical manifestations and control of outbreaks of these viral infections". He was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 International Symposium on Filoviruses. He was named as one of Nature's 10 in 2018 and 2019. In 2019 he won the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize from the Government of Japan. Muyembe is included in Time magazine 's 100 Most Influential People of 2020.
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- Cyranoski, David; Gaind, Nisha; Gibney, Elizabeth; Masood, Ehsan; Maxmen, Amy; Reardon, Sara; Schiermeier, Quirin; Tollefson, Jeff; Witze, Alexandra (17 December 2019). "Nature's 10: Ten people who mattered in science in 2019". Nature. 576 (7787): 361–372. Bibcode:2019Natur.576..361C. doi:10.1038/d41586-019-03749-0. PMID 31848484.
- Breman, Joel G.; Heymann, David L.; Lloyd, Graham; McCormick, Joseph B.; Miatudila, Malonga; Murphy, Frederick A.; Muyembé-Tamfun, Jean-Jacques; Piot, Peter; Ruppol, Jean-François; Sureau, Pierre; van der Groen, Guido; Johnson, Karl M. (15 October 2016). "Discovery and Description of Ebola Zaire Virus in 1976 and Relevance to the West African Epidemic During 2013–2016". Journal of Infectious Diseases. 214 (suppl 3): S93–S101. doi:10.1093/infdis/jiw207. PMC 5050466. PMID 27357339.
- Corti D, Misasi J, Mulangu S, Stanley DA, Kanekiyo M, Wollen S, et al. (March 2016). "Protective monotherapy against lethal Ebola virus infection by a potently neutralizing antibody". Science. 351 (6279): 1339–42. Bibcode:2016Sci...351.1339C. doi:10.1126/science.aad5224. PMID 26917593.
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- Honigsbaum, Mark (June 2015). "Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum: Africa's veteran Ebola hunter". The Lancet. 385 (9986): 2455. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)61128-X. PMID 26122060.
- Rosello, Alicia; Mossoko, Mathias; Flasche, Stefan; Van Hoek, Albert Jan; Mbala, Placide; Camacho, Anton; Funk, Sebastian; Kucharski, Adam; Ilunga, Benoit Kebela; Edmunds, W John; Piot, Peter; Baguelin, Marc; Muyembe Tamfum, Jean-Jacques (2015). "Ebola virus disease in Zaire (the Democratic Republic of the Congo), 1976-2014". eLife. 4. doi:10.7554/eLife.09015. PMC 4629279. PMID 26525597.
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- Leroy, Eric M.; Epelboin, Alain; Mondonge, Vital; Pourrut, Xavier; Gonzalez, Jean-Paul; Muyembe-Tamfum, Jean-Jacques; Formenty, Pierre (2009). "Human Ebola Outbreak Resulting from Direct Exposure to Fruit Bats in Luebo, Democratic Republic of Congo, 2007". Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases. 9 (6): 723–728. doi:10.1089/vbz.2008.0167. PMID 19323614.
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- Members of the WHO Advisory Group on the Ebola Virus Disease Response World Health Organization.
- Yong, Ed (2018-05-11). "The New Ebola Outbreak Could Take 'Three, Maybe Four' Months to Control". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-12-21.
- "Ebola resurgit car nous ne connaissons pas son réservoir". BBC News Afrique. 2018-05-18. Retrieved 2018-12-21.
- Robert, Alexis; Camacho, Anton; Edmunds, W John; Baguelin, Marc; Muyembe Tamfum, Jean-Jacques; Rosello, Alicia; Keita, Sakoba; Eggo, Rosalind M. (2018). "Effect of vaccinating health care workers to control Ebola virus disease: A modelling analysis of outbreak data". doi:10.1101/113506. Cite journal requires
- Un an d’Ebola en RDC: qui croire dans la polémique sur le deuxième vaccin? http://www.rfi.fr/fr/afrique/20190802-ebola-rdc-croire-polemique-deuxieme-vaccin
- DR Congo 'prepared' to take part in vaccine testing: official. by AFP |https://news.yahoo.com/dr-congo-prepared-part-vaccine-testing-official-215705424.html
- "Covid-19 et vaccin en RDC: les précisions Dr Muyembe".
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- The Royal Society Pfizer Award. The Royal Society.
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- Gibney, Elizabeth; Callaway, Ewen; Cyranoski, David; Gaind, Nisha; Tollefson, Jeff; Courtland, Rachel; Law, Yao-Hua; Maher, Brendan; Else, Holly; Castelvecchi, Davide (18 December 2018). "Nature's 10: Ten people who mattered in science in 2018". Nature. 564 (7736): 325–335. doi:10.1038/d41586-018-07683-5. PMID 30563976.
- "Laureates of the Third Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
- "Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum: The 100 Most Influential People of 2020". Time. Retrieved 2020-09-23.
|Scholia has a profile for Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum (Q32678288).|