Peter Piot

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Peter Piot

Piot in 2006
Born (1949-02-17) 17 February 1949 (age 75)
NationalityBelgian, British w,
Alma materGhent University
University of Antwerp
SpouseHeidi Larson
Scientific career
InstitutionsLondon School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp
Imperial College London

Sir Peter Karel, Baron Piot, KCMG, FRCP, FFPH, FMedSci (born 17 February 1949)[1] is a Belgian-British 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. He is the author of 16 books and over 600 scientific articles.

Early life and education[edit]

Piot was born in Leuven, Belgium.[1] His father was a civil servant who worked with agricultural exports and his mother ran a construction company. Piot is the oldest of two brothers and a sister.[1]

After beginning in the school of engineering and physics at Ghent University studying physics, Piot changed to medicine. During medical school, Piot received a Diploma in Tropical Medicine (DTM) from the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp in Antwerp. In 1974, he received an MD degree from Ghent University.[1] In 1980, Piot received a PhD degree in clinical microbiology from the University of Antwerp.[1][2]


In 1976, while working at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Piot was part of a team that observed a Marburg-like virus in a sample of blood taken from a sick nun working in Zaire.[3][4] Piot and his colleagues subsequently traveled to Zaire as part of an International Commission set up by the Government of Zaire to help quell the outbreak.[1] The International Commission 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 already waning when the International Commission arrived, thanks to measures taken by local and national authorities, and it finally stopped in three months, after it had killed almost 300 people.[5] The events were dramatised by Mike Walker on BBC Radio 4 in December 2014 in a production by David Morley. Piot narrated the programme.[6]

Piot has received the majority of the credit for discovering Ebola, since in 1976, it was claimed he was the one to receive blood samples while working in a lab at the Institute for Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium.[2] The samples were once claimed to be originally sent by Dr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum, a Congolese doctor who obtained the blood samples from those sickened with a mysterious disease in then-Zaire, later discovered to be Ebola. In 2012, Piot published a memoir entitled No Time to Lose which chronicles his professional work, including the discovery of the Ebolavirus; he mentions Muyembe in passing rather than as a co-discoverer.[7] In a 2016 Journal of Infectious Disease article, co-signed by most of the actors from that first outbreak, including Peter Piot and Jean-Jacques Muyembe, the claims by both Piot and Muyembe to have played a significant role in the early discovery of Ebola have been refuted.[8] Piot stated in 2019 that "my book was not an attempt to write the history of Ebola, but more my personal experience".[9]

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.[2]

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.[10]

From 2009 to 2010, Piot served as director of the Institute for Global Health at Imperial College London.[2]

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine[edit]

In October 2010, Piot became the director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.[11]

In addition to his work at LSHTM, Piot 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. In 2011, Amy Gutmann appointed him to serve on the International Research Panel at the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

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.[12] That year, he was appointed by Director General Margaret Chan to the World Health Organization's Advisory Group on the Ebola Virus Disease Response, co-chaired by Sam Zaramba and David L. Heymann.[13] He also 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 WHO and put forward ten recommendations for the body's reorganisation.[14] In February 2020, he criticised the delay in declaring the 2019–20 novel coronavirus outbreak focused on Hubei, China, a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and advocated a five-point scale for outbreaks, rather the current binary (emergency/no emergency) system.[15]

In 2020, Piot was appointed to the European Commission’s advisory panel on COVID-19, co-chaired by Ursula von der Leyen and Stella Kyriakides.[16] In the preparations for the Global Health Summit hosted by the European Commission and the G20 in May 2021, Piot co-chaired the event's High Level Scientific Panel.[17]

Personal life[edit]

In May 2020, Piot disclosed that he had had COVID-19.[18]

Piot is fluent in English, French, and Dutch.[2] He is married to the American anthropologist Heidi Larson.[19]

Other activities[edit]



Selected filmography[edit]

  • 2002: Jonathan Dimbleby (TV series) – episode: "The AIDS Crisis in Africa"
  • 2006: Frontline (TV series documentary) – episode: "The Age of AIDS"
  • 2006: 60 Minutes (TV series documentary) – episode: "The New Space Race/Fighting AIDS/Immortality"
  • 2009: House of Numbers: Anatomy of an Epidemic (Documentary)
  • 2014: Horizon: Ebola: The Search for a Cure (TV series documentary)
  • 2017: Heart of the Matter (documentary short)
  • 2017: Unseen Enemy (documentary)

Selected works and publications[edit]

Selected works[edit]

  • Piot, Peter (2013). No Time to Lose: A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses. New York; London: W.W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-08411-5. OCLC 916025971.
  • Piot, Peter (2015). AIDS: Between Science and Politics. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-16626-3. OCLC 946549752.

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Harden, Victoria A.; Piot, Peter (4 January 2008). "In Their Own Words... NIH Researchers Recall the Early Years of AIDS: Interview with Dr. Peter Piot". National Institutes of Health.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Professor Baron Peter Piot; KCMG MD PhD DTM FRCP FFPH FMedSci". London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Archived from the original on 14 April 2023. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  3. ^ Pattyn, S.; Groen, G.vander; Jacob, W.; Piot, P.; Courteille, G. (March 1977). "Isolation of Marburg-like virus from a case of haemorrhagic fever in Zaire". The Lancet. 309 (8011): 573–574. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(77)92002-5. PMID 65663. Wikidata ()
  4. ^ Piot, Peter; Bartos, Michael; Ghys, Peter D.; Walker, Neff; Schwartländer, Bernhard (April 2001). "The global impact of HIV/AIDS". Nature. 410 (6831): 968–973. Bibcode:2001Natur.410..968P. doi:10.1038/35073639. PMID 11309626. S2CID 4373421. Wikidata ()
  5. ^ Members of the International Commission (1978). "Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Zaire, 1976". Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 56 (2): 271–93. PMC 2395567. PMID 307456. Wikidata ()
  6. ^ "Ebola". BBC Radio 4. 18 December 2014.
  7. ^ Piot, Peter (2013). No Time to Lose: A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses. New York; London: W.W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-08411-5. OCLC 916025971.
  8. ^ 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. Wikidata ()
  9. ^ Peralta, Eyder (4 November 2019). "This Congolese Doctor Discovered Ebola But Never Got Credit For It — Until Now". NPR.
  10. ^ Shetty, Priya (June 2008). "Peter Piot". The Lancet. 371 (9628): 1907. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)60820-X. PMID 18539213. S2CID 205951166. Wikidata ()
  11. ^ Harden, Victoria A.; Piot, Peter (16 June 2010). "In Their Own Words... NIH Researchers Recall the Early Years of AIDS: Dr Peter Piot Interview 3 – June 16, 2010". National Institutes of Health.
  12. ^ Dixon, Robyn (6 August 2014). "Three leading Ebola experts call for release of experimental drug". Los Angeles Times. Johannesburg.
  13. ^ "Members of the WHO Advisory Group on the Ebola Virus Disease Response". World Health Organization. September 2015. Archived from the original on 28 November 2014.
  14. ^ 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, PMC 7137174, PMID 26615326
  15. ^ Peter Piot, James Barr (7 February 2020). "Coronavirus – will it become a pandemic? (LSHTM Viral S1E5)" (Podcast). London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Event occurs at 06:34–07:56. Retrieved 9 February 2010.
  16. ^ COVID-19: Commission launches European team of scientific experts to strengthen EU coordination and medical response European Commission, press release of 17 March 2020.
  17. ^ Global Health Summit: Panel of Scientific Experts European Commission.
  18. ^ Draulans, Dirk (8 May 2020). "'Finally, a virus got me.' Scientist who fought Ebola and HIV reflects on facing death from COVID-19". Science: AAAS.
  19. ^ "Peter Piot – Out to stop the Ebola virus he found". Financial Times. 3 October 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  20. ^ Strategy Group on Health Africa Europe Foundation (AEF).
  21. ^ Scientific Advisory Board of the Centre for International Health Protection (ZIG) Robert Koch Institute (RKI).
  22. ^ Senior Advisory Board Exemplars in Global Health.
  23. ^ Board Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
  24. ^ CEPI announces new permanent board Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), press release of 24 January 2018.
  25. ^ Editorial Advisory Board The Lancet.
  26. ^ Governance Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI).
  27. ^ Olive Shisana and Peter Piot appointed to Africa Health Research Institute Board Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI), press release of 31 January 2017.
  28. ^ Strategic Coherence of ODA-funded Research UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR).
  29. ^ Announcing the Chair of the new HMG SCOR Board UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR), press release of 26 September 2017.
  30. ^ Advisory Panel Archived 22 March 2020 at the Wayback Machine Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF).
  31. ^ Board of Trustees Novartis Foundation.
  32. ^ Novartis Foundation confirms new members of its Board of trustees, including new Chairman Dr. Joerg Reinhardt Novartis Foundation, press release of 27 July 2015.
  33. ^ International Advisory Board Antwerp Management School.
  34. ^ International Advisory Board Centre Virchow-Villermé.
  35. ^ Board of Advisors Global Health Corps.
  36. ^ Board of Directors Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund).
  37. ^ International Advisory Board The Lancet.
  38. ^ Peter Piot University of Washington.
  39. ^ Council World Health Summit.
  40. ^ "Past Recipients". Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. 8 September 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  41. ^ "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.
  42. ^ Osaki, Tomohiro (2 June 2013). "Belgian, Ugandan win Noguchi prize". The Japan Times Online. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  43. ^ 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. PMID 24325009. S2CID 42253188.
  44. ^ histoire. "Peter Piot, Prix International 2015 / Histoire de l'Inserm". Histoire de l'Inserm (in French). Archived from the original on 27 May 2021. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  45. ^ 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. S2CID 9672382.
  46. ^ "Previous medal winners". Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 6 August 2014. Archived from the original on 23 January 2017. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  47. ^ "Peter Piot". German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  48. ^ "Honorary awards" (PDF).
  49. ^ "Honours and Awards | the Gazette".

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]