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Michel Kazatchkine
GFO Issue 71

Michel Kazatchkine


Bernard Rivers

Article Type:

Article Number: 2

ABSTRACT Michel Kazatchkine has spent the past twenty years fighting AIDS as a leading physician, researcher, administrator, advocate, policymaker and diplomat.

A few days prior to the Global Fund board choosing a new Executive Director, each of the three shortlisted candidates circulated a brief public biography to various contacts. Following is the biography that was circulated by Michel Kazatchkine, who today was chosen as Executive Director.

Michel Kazatchkine

Michel Kazatchkine has spent the past 20 years fighting AIDS as a leading physician, researcher, administrator, advocate, policymaker and diplomat.

Dr Kazatchkine attended medical school at Necker-Enfants-Malades in Paris, studied immunology at the Pasteur Institute and has completed postdoctoral fellowships at St Mary’s hospital in London and Harvard Medical School.

His involvement with HIV began in 1983, when, as a young clinical immunologist, he treated a French couple who had returned from Africa with unexplained fever and severe immune deficiency. By 1985, he had started a clinic in Paris specializing in AIDS, which now treats over 1,600 people. Three years later, he opened the first night clinic for people with HIV in Paris, making it possible for them to obtain confidential health care outside working hours. Over the next ten years, Dr Kazatchkine developed an international career as a clinician, teacher and basic and clinical investigator.

Dr Kazatchkine has produced more than 600 research papers focusing on auto-immunity, drug therapy, immuno-intervention and HIV pathogenesis. He has been widely published in The Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, Nature Medicine and other leading journals.

From 1998 to 2005, Dr. Kazatchkine directed the French National Agency for AIDS Research (ANRS), the world’s second largest AIDS research program, with an annual budget of US $65 million. During this time, ANRS shifted much of its focus from domestic research to work in Africa and the developing world, including pioneering clinical trials of antiretroviral drugs both for treatment and for the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, the follow up of patients’ cohorts and evaluation of programs. His experience with programs covers Africa, South and South-East Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, more specifically in Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Vietnam. At the same time, he served as Head of the Department of Immunology and the Clinical Immunology Unit at the Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou in Paris. His joint appointments involved management responsibility for 250 staff and oversight of more than 150 different research projects.

Throughout his career, Dr Kazatchkine has been closely involved with national and international NGOs working in the field of health and development. He is a long standing member of Médecins du Monde and a founding member of Nova Dona, an NGO providing services to drug users in Paris.

As a leader in international efforts to expand access to HIV prevention, treatment and care in the developing world, Dr Kazatchkine is committed to ensuring the highest ethical and scientific standards. At the ANRS, he championed the involvement of civil society in research design and oversight, and implemented a requirement that all research projects conducted in developing countries must include a local principal investigator. Between 2002 and 2005 he served as the first Chair of the Technical Review Panel of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. During this time (Rounds 1 to 4), he led the development of a rigorous, transparent and accountable process for reviewing applications for Global Fund grants, which resulted in Board approval of grants worth $US 8.1 billion to 128 countries. Dr Kazatchkine served as Vice-Chair of the Board of the Global Fund between 2005 and 2006.

Since 2004, he has served both as Chair of the World Health Organization’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS and as a member of the WHO’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Group on tuberculosis, providing guidance on a very broad range of strategic and policy issues concerning the health sector response to these major infectious diseases. Making optimal use of the synergies between HIV/AIDS and TB programming is of special interest to Dr Kazatchkine in this work.

In February 2005, Dr. Kazatchkine was named France’s global HIV/AIDS and communicable diseases ambassador. This inter-ministerial appointment has required close liaison between the national Departments of Foreign Affairs, Health and International Development. In his advocacy role as Ambassador, Dr Kazatchkine has championed global efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals, and, as a policymaker, has driven French participation in the establishment of the International Drug Purchasing Facility. In his diplomatic role, he has worked to build and consolidate global political and financial commitment to the response to HIV and other transmissible diseases, developing close working relationships with a wide range of national and international institutions and stakeholder groups, including the French presidency, cabinet and ministries; UN agencies including WHO, UNAIDS, the World Bank, UNDP and UNICEF; major bilateral donors including the governments of Canada, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief; private foundations; non-governmental organizations and affected communities. He has participated in numerous regional and international summits, including representing the government of France at the High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS at the UN General Assembly in May/June 2005 and 2006. He has been participating in the process preparing the July 2006 Saint Petersburg Summit of G8 leaders.

While recognizing the enormous challenges of tackling HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria globally, Dr Kazatchkine believes that the progress made in recent years – particularly through programs supported by the Global Fund – presents enormous opportunities: “It is within our grasp to stop the spread of the AIDS pandemic in Asia and Eastern Europe before it reaches levels experienced in African”, says Dr Kazatchkine. “We can treat people in poor countries and turn AIDS there into the chronic illness that it has become in rich countries. We have the means to control malaria and tuberculosis, which are so lethal and so closely bound with AIDS. These may be huge tasks, but the obstacles are capacity and resources, much more than science.” Dr Kazatchkine also emphasizes the importance of partnerships. “No one can do it alone, it has to be a global effort, which is why I want to support stronger collaboration between donors, technical agencies, programmers and implementers “.

In addition to his other responsibilities, Dr Kazatchkine continues to treat patients at the Department of Clinical Immunology at Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris. He is also professor of Medicine (Immunology) at René Descartes University, Paris.

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