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Peter Piot awarded Honorary Knighthood

6 January 2017

Peter Piot
Professor Peter Piot. Credit: Heidi Larson

Professor Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, has been honoured by Her Majesty The Queen for his services to the global response to AIDS and the Ebola epidemic. He was awarded an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Honorary Awards.

Baron Piot has made a huge contribution to HIV/AIDS research and played a leading role in the global response to the AIDS epidemic, especially in Africa. His pioneering work revealed a major heterosexual HIV epidemic and established much of the knowledge of the clinical manifestations, natural history and epidemiology of HIV in Africa, including the first studies showing the effectiveness of HIV prevention in high-risk populations.

He was the founding Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1995 until 2008. Under his leadership, UNAIDS became the chief advocate for worldwide action against AIDS, also spearheading UN reform by bringing together 10 UN system organisations.

Prof Piot was part of a team that co-discovered the Ebola virus in 1976 and was a leading voice during the recent outbreak of the disease in West Africa, when he was highly instrumental in mobilising the international community to respond. He held the role of Chair of the World Health Organization's Ebola Science Committee, and he also chaired the influential Harvard Global Health Institute-London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Independent Panel on the Global Response to Ebola.

Professor Piot said: "I am deeply grateful for this recognition from my adoptive country. It is an encouragement for all of us in global health and a tribute to the hard work of my colleagues at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine."

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies said: "Peter is truly well deserving of this recognition. His outstanding contribution to the fight against the global AIDS and Ebola epidemics have enhanced our medical understanding and saved countless lives. I would like to warmly congratulate him on this honour and look forward to his future contributions to medicine."

During his career Prof Piot has received numerous awards for his contributions to global health, including the Bloomberg Hopkins 100 Award, the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize, the Prince Mahidol Award for Public Health, and the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award. He was a 2014 TIME Person of the Year, and has published more than 550 scientific articles, and 17 books, including his memoirs No Time To Lose: a life in pursuit of deadly viruses.

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "I am absolutely delighted that Peter Piot has been awarded this honour, it is richly deserved. Peter has shown truly outstanding leadership throughout his career, including his time as Director of UNAIDS and, more recently, during the Ebola response and the plans to reform global health since the epidemic. He has inspired a generation of global health researchers and advocates with his exceptional track record in HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health and sexually transmitted diseases. There is no doubt that his work has saved and improved countless lives around the world. His legacy is even more profound, he has shown us that a better world is within our reach."

Dame Marjorie Scardino, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine's Chairman of Council, said: "We at the School are very pleased and proud that Peter Piot has received this important recognition for his work; but I know that he would say that this award should be for all of those from the School who work tirelessly, sometimes in dangerous conditions, to help improve health around the world. We hope this award helps further raise the profile of important global health issues."

Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George is awarded by the Queen to those who have rendered extraordinary and important services abroad.

Her Majesty The Queen has also awarded the School's Professor Vikram Patel an Honorary OBE for his services to global mental health, and Professor Francesco Checchi an Honorary OBE for his services to emergency health crisis abroad, particularly Syria and Central African Republic.

Professor Nick Black was knighted in the New Year Honours list for his services to healthcare research.