Executive Director of UNAIDS since its creation in 1995 and Under Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr Peter Piot came from a distinguished academic and scientific career focusing on AIDS and women’s health in the developing world.
Drawing on his skills as a scientist, manager and activist, Dr Piot challenged world leaders to view AIDS in the context of social and economic development as well as security.
Under his leadership, UNAIDS became the chief advocate for worldwide action against AIDS. It brought together ten organizations of the United Nations system around a common agenda on AIDS, spearheading UN reform.
Dr Piot earned a medical degree from the University of Ghent, a Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Antwerp, Belgium, and was a Senior Fellow at the University of Washington in Seattle. After graduating from medical school, Dr Piot co-discovered the Ebola virus in Zaire in 1976.
In the 1980s Dr Piot launched and expanded a series of collaborative projects in Africa, in Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Tanzania and Zaire. Projet SIDA in Kinshasa, Zaire, was the first international project on AIDS in Africa and is widely acknowledged as having provided the foundations of our understanding of HIV infection in Africa. He was a professor of microbiology, and of public health at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, in Antwerp, and the Universities of Nairobi, Brussels and Lausanne.
In 1992, Dr Piot joined the Global Programme on AIDS of the World Health Organization, in Geneva, as Associate Director.
Born in 1949 in Belgium, Dr Piot is fluent in three languages and is the author of 16 books and more than 500 scientific articles. He has received numerous awards for scientific and societal achievement, and was made a Baron by King Albert II of Belgium in 1995. 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, and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London, UK.
Dr Piot left his post at the end of 2008 and took up an appointment as Director of a new Institute for Global Health at Imperial College London.