Sci­en­tist of the Year

Dr. Jac­ques Pépin named

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier Sher­brooke

Last Thurs­day, Dr. Jac­ques Pépin, an in­fec­tious dis­ease doc­tor and epi­demi­ol­o­gist work­ing out of the CHUS, was named the Sci­en­tist of the Year 2011 by the team from the Ra­dio-canada sci­ence ra­dio show Les

An­nees lu­miere. He re­ceived the award for his im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to shed light on the ori­gin of AIDS and HIV. Ra­dio-canada awards the ti­tle to a per­son or a team that stood out dur­ing the year ei­ther by a re­mark­able dis­cov­ery or pub­li­ca­tion of na­tional or in­ter­na­tional im­por­tance.

Dr. Pépin pub­lished a widely ac­claimed book last Novem­ber, en­ti­tled The Ori­gin of Aids, which not only

cap­tured the at­ten­tion of the team at Ra­dio-canada, but also that of the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity and the in­ter­na­tional me­dia. It has been praised by AIDS ex­perts since its re­lease. A com­pre­hen­sive fea­ture ar­ti­cle about the new book ap­peared in the New York Times and can be found on the in­ter­net.

The book sheds light on the ori­gins of the dis­ease in hu­mans at the be­gin­ning of the 20th cen­tury and how it spread in Africa. It also ex­plains the role played by public health cam­paigns and pros­ti­tu­tion in the spread­ing of the dis­ease which has killed more than 29 mil­lion peo­ple. Since its pub­li­ca­tion, Dr. Pépin seems to have be­come the ‘go-to’ ex­pert on the ori­gin of AIDS by the in­ter­na­tional me­dia.

In award­ing Dr. Pépin this ti­tle, the team from Ra­dio-canada has recog- Dr. Jac­ques Pépin (left) was happy to re­ceive the Sci­en­tist of the Year award from Louis La­lande, Ra­dio-canada’s vice-pres­i­dent of French Ser­vices. nized the fruit of the in­ten­sive, de­tailed re­search of the doc­tor and the orig­i­nal­ity of his work. In ef­fect, it took seven years of work for Dr. Pépin to gather the his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments needed to write the book. Orig­i­nally, he planned to write only about 3000 words on the sub­ject!

The Ori­gin of Aids is not only a his­tor­i­cal book; it is also a cau­tion­ary tale for the med­i­cal com­mu­nity. AIDS and HIV has spread not only through sex­ual ac­tiv­ity, but also by doc­tors and nurses fight­ing dis­ease in Africa through public health cam­paigns. Dr. Pépin be­lieves that the med­i­cal world must learn from this tragic story if it wants to avoid fu­ture pan­demics.

Dr. Serge Marc­hand, the Di­rec­tor of the CHUS’

is also proud of the ac­com­plish­ments of his col­league: “His sci­en­tific in­ter­est, his orig­i­nal ap­proach and his rig­or­ous method­ol­ogy al­lowed him to make this re­mark­able break­through. These same qual­i­ties also al­lowed him to make progress in our fight against Clostrid­ium dif­fi­cile in the past, con­tri­bu­tions for which all of Que­bec so­ci­ety should be grate­ful. Dr Pépin is an ex­am­ple to all of his stu­dents.”

Be­sides his prac­tice at the CHUS, Dr. Pépin is the chief pro­fes­sor of the

jean.rousseau. c1@parl.gc.ca Mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy Depart­ment of the Fac­ulty of Health Sci­ence and Medicine at the Univer­sité de Sher­brooke, a re­searcher at the CHUS’ Cen­tre de recherche Clin­ique Etienne Le Bel and the di­rec­tor of the in­ter­na­tional health cen­tre of the Univer­sité de Sher­brooke. Dr. Pépin also prac­tised medicine for many years in Africa.

Photo cour­tesy CHUS

Dr. Jac­ques Pépin, of the CHUS, was named Ra­dioCanada Sci­en­tist of the Year 2011 for his im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to the world of medicine, par­tic­u­larly with his book The Ori­gin of AIDS.

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