Peter Piot

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Peter Piot
Baron Peter Piot.jpg
Peter Piot
Born (1949-02-17) 17 February 1949 (age 70)
Alma materGhent University
University of Antwerp
Scientific career
InstitutionsLondon School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp
Imperial College London

Peter Karel, Baron Piot, KCMG, FRCP, FMedSci (born 1949) is a Belgian microbiologist known for his research into Ebola and AIDS. After helping discover the Ebola virus in 1976 and leading efforts to contain the first-ever recorded Ebola epidemic that same year, Piot became a pioneering researcher into AIDS. He has held key positions in the United Nations and World Health Organization involving AIDS research and management. He has also served as a professor at several universities worldwide.[1]

Education and career[edit]

Piot was born in Leuven, Belgium. He studied medicine at Ghent University, and earned an M.D. in 1974. He then began working at the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp while pursuing a graduate degree in clinical microbiology from the University of Antwerp. He received a PhD in microbiology from the University of Antwerp in 1980.[2]

In 1976, while working at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Piot was part of a team that discovered the Ebola virus in a sample of blood taken from a sick nun working in Zaire.[3][4] Piot and his colleagues subsequently traveled to Zaire to help quell the outbreak. Piot's team made key discoveries into how the virus spread, and traveled from village to village, spreading information and putting the ill and those who had come into contact with them into quarantine. The epidemic was stopped in three months, after it had killed almost 300 people.[5] The events were dramatised[6] by Mike Walker on BBC Radio 4 in December 2014 in a production by David Morley. Piot narrated the programme.[7]

In the 1980s, Piot participated in a series of collaborative projects in Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zaire. Project SIDA in Kinshasa, Zaire was the first international project on AIDS in Africa and is widely acknowledged as having provided the foundations of science's understanding of HIV infection in Africa. He was a professor of microbiology, and of public health at the Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine, in Antwerp, and at the University of Nairobi, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the Lausanne, and a visiting professor at the London School of Economics. He was also a Senior Fellow at the University of Washington in Seattle, a Scholar in Residence at the Ford Foundation, and a Senior Fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.[8]

From 1991 to 1994, Piot was president of the International AIDS Society. In 1992, he became Assistant Director of the World Health Organization's Global Programme on HIV/AIDS. On 12 December 1994, he was appointed Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and Assistant-Secretary-General of the United Nations.[9]

From 2009 to 2010, he served as director of the Institute for Global Health at Imperial College London.[8] In September 2010,[citation needed] he became the director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.[10]

He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States and the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London, UK and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He is the author of 16 books and over 550 scientific articles, and is fluent in English, French, and Dutch.[8]

In 2014, in the face of an unprecedented Ebola epidemic in western Africa, Piot and other scientists called for the emergency release of the experimental ZMapp vaccine for use on humans before it had undergone clinical testing on humans.[11] He chaired an independent panel convened by Harvard Global Health Institute and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine into the national and international response to the epidemic, which sharply criticised the response of the World Health Organization and put forward ten recommendations for the body's reorganisation.[12]

Awards and honours[edit]

Piot was appointed an Officer of the Order of the Leopard of Zaire in 1976 for his work during the Ebola outbreak, and was also appointed an Officer of the Order of the Lion of Senegal. He was ennobled as a Baron by King Albert II of Belgium, in 1995. He received the Calderone Prize in Public Health (2003),[13] the Vlerick Award (2004), the America-Flanders Award (2008),[14] the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize (2013),[15] the Prince Mahidol Award (2013),[16] the Prix International de l’INSERM (2015),[17] the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award (2015),[18] and the Manson Medal (2016).[19] In 2016, he was made an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in the United Kingdom.[20]



  1. ^ Piot, P. (2012). No Time to Lose: A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses. W. W. Norton.
  2. ^ "Peter Piot". LSHTM. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  3. ^ Pattyn, S.; Groen, G. V.; Jacob, W.; Piot, P.; Courteille, G. (1977). "Isolation of Marburg-Like Virus from a Case of Hæmorrhagic Fever in Zaire". The Lancet. 309 (8011): 573–574. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(77)92002-5. PMID 65663.
  4. ^ Piot, P.; Bartos, M.; Ghys, P. D.; Walker, N.; Schwartländer, B. (2001). "The global impact of HIV/AIDS". Nature. 410 (6831): 968–73. Bibcode:2001Natur.410..968P. doi:10.1038/35073639. PMID 11309626.
  5. ^ The virus detective who discovered Ebola in 1976
  6. ^ "Ebola". BBC.
  7. ^ "Ebola, Afternoon Drama - BBC Radio 4". BBC. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
  8. ^ a b c Professor Peter Piot
  9. ^ Shetty, P. (2008). "Peter Piot". The Lancet. 371 (9628): 1907. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)60820-X. PMID 18539213.
  10. ^ "Welcome from the Director". London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  11. ^ "Three leading Ebola experts call for release of experimental drug". Los Angeles Times. 6 August 2014.
  12. ^ Moon S; et al. (2015), "Will Ebola change the game? Ten essential reforms before the next pandemic. The report of the Harvard-LSHTM Independent Panel on the Global Response to Ebola", Lancet, 386 (10009): 2204–2221, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)00946-0, PMID 26615326
  13. ^ "Past Recipients". Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. 8 September 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  14. ^ "Flanders-America Awards voor Peter Piot en duo Bruyneel/Armstrong" [Flanders-America Awards for Peter Piot and Bruyneel/Armstrong duo]. Het Nieuwsblad Mobile (in Dutch). 25 February 2009. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  15. ^ Osaki, Tomohiro (2 June 2013). "Belgian, Ugandan win Noguchi prize". The Japan Times Online. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  16. ^ Holmes, David (2013). "2013 Prince Mahidol Award winners announced". The Lancet. 382 (9908): 1869. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(13)62349-1. ISSN 0140-6736.
  17. ^ histoire. "Peter Piot, Prix International 2015 / Histoire de l'Inserm". Histoire de l'Inserm (in French). Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  18. ^ Maurice, John (2015). "Peter Piot wins 2015 Canada Gairdner Global Health Award". The Lancet. 385 (9974): 1170. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(15)60610-9. ISSN 0140-6736. PMID 25819690.
  19. ^ "Previous medal winners". Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 6 August 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  20. ^ Honorary awards

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