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This will be the very first time an African (Cameroonian born) will be leading a big program like the US government’s HIV program. The Biden administration plans to appoint Dr. John Nkengasong as head of the Presidential AIDS Emergency Plan.
According to some sources, the announcement of his appointment to the said post is expected in the coming days.
PEPFAR (United States Emergency Plan to End the HIV / AIDS Epidemic) is a $7 billion operation that funds and sets targets for AIDS care in many countries, most of them in Africa. Dr Nkengasong, who was born in Cameroon, is the first person of African descent to lead this program, which is hosted by the State Department.
Who is Dr. John Nkengasong?
Dr. John Nkengasong is a virologist and director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
He obtained his undergraduate degree at the University of Yaoundé I during which he met Peter Piot, who encouraged him to visit Antwerp as a graduate student in virology. He ended up studying biomedical sciences at the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp.
He then moved to the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, where he earned a master’s degree in medical sciences.
After earning his master’s degree Nkengasong joined the research group of Guido van der Groen and Piot.
His doctoral research was the first to characterize all of the genetic subtypes of HIV in Africa.
He later completed a management qualification at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Prior to his appointment with Africa CDC, he was the Deputy Principal Director (acting) of the Centre for Global Health at the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and Associate Director of Laboratory Science and Chief of the International Laboratory Branch at the Division of Global HIV/AIDS and TB.
Earlier in his career (1993 to 1995), Dr Nkengasong worked as Chief of Virology Laboratory at the Collaborating Centre on HIV Diagnostics at the Department of Microbiology, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium and later joined US CDC in 1994 as Chief of the Virology Laboratory in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
Earlier this year, the Director was appointed as one of the WHO Director-General’s Special Envoys on COVID-19 Preparedness and Response.