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|Year of election:||2018|
|Section:||Microbiology and Immunology|
Main areas of research: Infectious diseases, Ebola virus, HIV virus modes of transmission, HIV/AIDS prevention and therapies, public and global health
Peter Piot is a doctor and microbiologist and one of the discoverers of the Ebola virus. He studies infectious diseases and develops strategies against them. He deciphered the HIV virus´ modes of transmission and developed prevention programmes to combat its spread. Piot was the associate director of WHO´s global AIDS programme, founding director of UNAIDS and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.
In 1976, Peter Piot and his colleagues isolated the Ebola virus. The virus is highly contagious and is usually fatal. When the till then unknown disease broke out in Zaire in the 1970s, these scientists, together with colleagues from Zaire and the US Centers for Disease Control, described the epidemiology of the disease, isolated the patients, educated the affected people and were thus able to contain the first Ebola epidemic.
In the 1980s, Peter Piot conducted research on HIV/AIDS in Africa. He was significantly involved in the first major international HIV/AIDS project to take place in a developing country, the SIDA project in Zaire. The findings from this project made crucial contributions to the understanding of this at the time completely new infectious disease. The researchers identified the virus´ modes of transmission including, for example, its passage from a mother to a child.
During his time as the director of UNAIDS he focalized all the UN organizations that were dealing with the AIDS problem. Through his commitment to science, politics and to society, he was able to rouse the people to action, organize money for the fight against AIDS and initiate worldwide campaigns. He promoted both HIV preventative and therapeutic programmes in low and middle income countries, and played a major role in ensuring access to antiretroviral treatment worldwide.
Peter Piot is active in various aspects of global health policy and global health security.