John Nkengasong

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John Nkengasong
John N. Nkengasong, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.jpg
Official portrait, 2022
United States Global AIDS Coordinator
United States Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy
Assumed office
June 13, 2022
PresidentJoe Biden
Preceded byDeborah Birx
Personal details
BornDouala, Cameroon
CitizenshipUnited States[1]
Alma materInstitute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
John F. Kennedy School of Government
Scientific career
InstitutionsAfrica Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization

John N. Nkengasong is a Cameroonian virologist serving as the Global AIDS Coordinator in the Biden administration since 2022. He previously worked as the Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention from 2016 to 2022, as well as at the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Nkengasong was appointed the WHO Special Envoy for Africa.

Early life and education[edit]

Nkengasong is from Cameroon.[2] He became interested in biology, chemistry and mathematics whilst he was at high school.[3]

Nkengasong earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Yaoundé I.[3] During his undergraduate degree he met Peter Piot, who encouraged him to visit Antwerp as a graduate student in virology. He ended up studying biomedical sciences at the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp.[4] After completing his second degree, he moved to the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, where he earned a master's degree in medical sciences.[4]

After earning his master's degree, Nkengasong joined the research group of Guido van der Groen and Piot.[2] His doctoral research was the first to characterise all of the genetic subtypes of HIV in Africa.[3] He later completed a management qualification at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.[5]

Research and career[edit]

Early beginnings[edit]

In 1993 Nkengasong joined the World Health Organization, where he served as Chief of Virology.[6] He was based in the Collaborating Centre for HIV/AIDS Diagnostics in the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp.[2] He has worked on the diagnosis, pathogenesis and drug resistance of HIV/AIDS.[7]

US CDC, 1994–2016[edit]

After a couple of years, Nkengasong moved to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where he worked as Chief of Virology in Abidjan.[2] In preparation for this job he was trained in Berkeley as part of the John E. Fogarty International Center.[8] Nkengasong worked alongside Mike Hendry, who was running the HIV diagnosis programme at the California State Laboratory.[8]

In 2011 Nkengasong helped to establish the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM).[9] The ASLM looks to support African researchers in developing their laboratory medicine capabilities and ability to care for patients.[10]

Africa CDC, 2016–2022[edit]

In 2016 Nkengasong joined the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, where he was made the inaugural Director.[11][12] At the Africa CDC Nkengasong oversees the Regional Integrated Surveillance and Laboratory Networks (RISLNET).[10][13] He believes that to keep infectious diseases in check in Africa it is essential to empower local leadership.[14]

During the COVID-19 pandemic Nkengasong was appointed a special envoy to the director general of the World Health Organization.[15] In this capacity he was responsible for amplifying the messages of the Director General as well as providing strategic advice on preparedness.[15][16] Nkengasong led Africa's response to coronavirus disease, including training a team of young responders; the African Healthcare Volunteer Workforce.[17][18] Protecting the African population from coronavirus disease is complicated by challenges such as difficulties in testing in regions affected by conflicts and issues with social distancing in urban slums.[19]

In the preparations for the Global Health Summit hosted by the European Commission and the G20 in May 2021, Nkengasong co-chaired the event's High-Level Scientific Panel.[20]

Biden administration[edit]

On September 27, 2021, President Joe Biden nominated Nkengasong to be the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Health Diplomacy and Global AIDS Coordinator in the Department of State. Nkengasong's initial nomination expired at the end of the year and was returned to President Biden on January 3, 2022.[21]

President Biden resent his nomination the following day. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings regarding Nkengasong's nomination on March 15, 2022.[22] In May 2022, the United States Senate confirmed his appointment to head the United States public health program, aimed at combating AIDS in foreign countries.[23] He was sworn in on June 13, 2022.[24]

Other activities[edit]

Awards and honours[edit]

Nkengasong was honored by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on TIME Magazine's "2021 TIME100" list of influential global figures, who described him as a "modern-day African hero" for his role in the continent's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[30]

Select publications[edit]

  • Wiktor, Stefan Z; Ekpini, Ehounou; Karon, John M; Nkengasong, John; Maurice, Chantal; Severin, Sibailly T; Roels, Thierry H; Kouassi, Moise K; Lackritz, Eve M; Coulibaly, Issa-Malick; Greenberg, Alan E (1999). "Short-course oral zidovudine for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1 in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire: a randomised trial". The Lancet. 353 (9155): 781–785. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(98)10412-9. ISSN 0140-6736. PMID 10459958. S2CID 30241185.
  • Parsons, Linda M.; Somoskövi, Ákos; Gutierrez, Cristina; Lee, Evan; Paramasivan, C. N.; Abimiku, Alash'le; Spector, Steven; Roscigno, Giorgio; Nkengasong, John (2011-04-01). "Laboratory Diagnosis of Tuberculosis in Resource-Poor Countries: Challenges and Opportunities". Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 24 (2): 314–350. doi:10.1128/CMR.00059-10. ISSN 0893-8512. PMC 3122496. PMID 21482728.
  • Janssens, Wouter; Buvé, Anne; Nkengasong, John N. (1997-05-11). "The puzzle of HIV-1 subtypes in Africa". AIDS. 11 (6): 705–712. doi:10.1097/00002030-199706000-00002. ISSN 0269-9370. PMID 9143601. S2CID 2781038.


  1. ^ "President Biden Announces Intent to Nominate Dr. John N. Nkengasong as Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator of United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS Globally". The White House. 2021-09-27. Retrieved 2021-10-17.
  2. ^ a b c d "P³ | #7 Autumn - Winter 2018". Issuu. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  3. ^ a b c NKENGASONG, JOHN, retrieved 2020-08-26
  4. ^ a b "John Nkengasong". IAVI. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  5. ^ a b "John Nkengasong". Africa CDC. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  6. ^ a b "John Nkengasong". Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. 2017-01-12. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  7. ^ "John Nkengasong". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  8. ^ a b "Q and A with Dr John Nkengasong, director of Africa CDC and former Fogarty trainee - Fogarty International Center @ NIH". Fogarty International Center. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  9. ^ Nkengasong, John N.; Mbopi-Keou, Francois-Xavier; Peeling, Rosanna W.; Yao, Katy; Zeh, Clement E.; Schneidman, Miriam; Gadde, Renuka; Abimiku, Alash'le; Onyebujoh, Philip; Birx, Deborah; Hader, Shannon (2018-11-01). "Laboratory medicine in Africa since 2008: then, now, and the future". The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 18 (11): e362–e367. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(18)30120-8. ISSN 1473-3099. PMID 29980383.
  10. ^ a b Nkengasong, John N.; Mbopi-Keou, Francois-Xavier; Peeling, Rosanna W.; Yao, Katy; Zeh, Clement E.; Schneidman, Miriam; Gadde, Renuka; Abimiku, Alash'le; Onyebujoh, Philip; Birx, Deborah; Hader, Shannon (2018-11-01). "Laboratory medicine in Africa since 2008: then, now, and the future". The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 18 (11): e362–e367. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(18)30120-8. ISSN 1473-3099. PMID 29980383.
  11. ^ a b "Dr. John Nkengasong named first director of Africa CDC | African Union". Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  12. ^ "Africa CDC and the New Public Health Order". LSHTM. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  13. ^ Nkengasong, John N.; Maiyegun, Olawale; Moeti, Matshidiso (2017-03-01). "Establishing the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention: responding to Africa's health threats". The Lancet Global Health. 5 (3): e246–e247. doi:10.1016/S2214-109X(17)30025-6. ISSN 2214-109X. PMID 28108138.
  14. ^ Nkengasong, John N. (2019-03-11). "How Africa can quell the next disease outbreaks". Nature. 567 (7747): 147. Bibcode:2019Natur.567..147N. doi:10.1038/d41586-019-00789-4. PMID 30858557. S2CID 73728502.
  15. ^ a b "WHO Director-General's Special Envoys on COVID-19 Preparedness and Response". Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  16. ^ "COVID-19 Live Q&A #4 with Peter Piot, John Nkengasong & Sarah Boseley". LSHTM. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  17. ^ "Together we can win the war against COVID-19 — Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) - World". ReliefWeb. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  18. ^ "The challenges of tackling Covid-19 in Africa". European Science-Media Hub. 2020-05-22. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  19. ^ "The Role of Africa CDC in Coordinating Public Health Responses to COVID-19 In Africa". World Bank. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  20. ^ Global Health Summit: Panel of Scientific Experts European Commission.
  21. ^ "PN1254 — John N. Nkengasong — Department of State 117th Congress (2021-2022)". US Congress. 3 January 2022. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  22. ^ "PN1571 — John N. Nkengasong — Department of State 117th Congress (2021-2022)". US Congress. 15 March 2022. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  23. ^ "UNAIDS warmly welcomes the confirmation of John Nkengasong to lead the United States global efforts to end AIDS". UNAIDS. 6 May 2022. Retrieved 6 May 2022.
  24. ^ "Welcoming Dr. John Nkengasong as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator". United States Department of State. 2022-06-13. Retrieved 2022-06-18.
  25. ^ Scientific Advisory Board of the Centre for International Health Protection (ZIG) Robert Koch Institute (RKI).
  26. ^ Governance African Coalition for Epidemic Research, Response and Training (ALERRT).
  27. ^ Board Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
  28. ^ Board of Directors: John Nkengasong International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI).
  29. ^ Bio Advisory Group Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).
  30. ^ "John Nkengasong: The 100 Most Influential People of 2021". Time. Retrieved 2021-09-16.