The Medical Mission

Dr. Peter Hotez

An internationally recognized medical parasitologist, vaccinologist, and tropical disease expert, Dr. Hotez — who earned his medical degree at Cornell University and took his PhD in biochemical parasitology from Rockefeller University — is breaking new ground in the control of neglected tropical diseases caused by parasitic helminths, or worm parasites, and the development of vaccines that combat them. He heads a non-profit product development partnership department at George Washington University Medical Center that, along with substantial ongoing microbiology research projects, is unique in its scope as it seeks to develop new vaccines and drugs for previously neglected diseases in developing countries.

Dr. Hotez was a pediatric medical resident at Massachusetts General Peter Hotez Hospital and completed a fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases in 1991 at Yale University School of Medicine. Human Hookworm Infection and Schistosomiais have been the focus of Dr. Hotez’s research. Currently, he is working on a vaccine to combat the worldwide prevalence of hookworm, an ancient scourge that still affects a billion people globally and almost 200 million in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. The World Health Organization and World Bank report that hookworm and allied diseases are leading causes of childhood and maternal disability in the developing world.

Dr. Hotez works in rural areas of Brazil where hookworm infection is highly endemic greatest and he has an established a collaboration with the major institutions in Brazil including the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation and Instituto Butantan, as well as in China with the Institute of Parasitic Diseases in Shanghai. Since Brazil has some of the highest prevalence rates of hookworm in the world, it is an ideal place to study the ecology and genetic diversity of the worms, according to Dr. Hotez. In addition to genetic engineering of a recombinant vaccine for helminth infections, Dr. Hotez also directs research toward genetic engineering of new biopharma-ceuticals from parasitic helminths.

As part of an anti-poverty vaccine initiative, he serves as principal scientist of the Human Hookworm Vaccine Initiative (HHVI), a public development partnership sponsored by the Sabin Vaccine Institute with major funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. HHVI serves to promote research and development, vaccine dissemination, research-based innovation and public advocacy.

He also co-directs the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Disease Control, a multinational initiative to control neglected tropical diseases with preventive chemotherapy anti-parasitic and anti-bacterial drugs. It’s making strides in disease control in Sub-Saharan Africa and tropical regions of the Americas.

In 2007, Dr. Hotez became the president of the Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Foundation and was a council member of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. In 1999, he received the prestigious Henry Baldwin Ward Medal of the American Society of Parasitologists, in 2003, the Bailey Ashford Medal of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygien, and, in 2006, and the Leverhulme Medal of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. He is the author of over 250 papers, including papers in the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, and Science, and books including his forthcoming offering, Forgotten People and Forgotten Diseases (ASM Press) and he is co-author of Parasitic Diseases, in its fifth edition, and Krugman’s Infectious Diseases of Children (1998), and he has been cited in national newspapers and magazines and National Public Radio regarding his hookworm research.