Dr Marie-Paule Kieny

Assistant Director-General, Health Systems and Innovation

Portrait of Marie-Paule Kieny

Dr Marie-Paule Kieny was appointed Assistant Director-General at the World Health Organization (WHO) in October 2010 and is now leading the Health Systems and Innovation cluster. Prior to this, Dr Kieny directed the WHO Initiative for Vaccine Research since its inception in 2001. Major successes under her leadership were the development and licensing of new vaccines against meningitis and measles, and against pandemic influenza in developing countries through pioneering transfer of technology and know-how. Vaccines against poverty-related diseases and those that disproportionately affect poor and marginalized populations are continuing priorities since her first role in WHO with the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases in 2001.

Before coming to WHO, Dr Kieny held top research positions in the public and private sectors of her home country, France, including Assistant Scientific Director of Transgene S.A. from 1981 to 1888, and Director of Research and Head of the Hepatitis C Virus Molecular Virology Group at the Institute of Virology, Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM) from 1999 to 2000.

Dr Kieny's research career began with the development of a recombinant rabies vaccine, allowing the elimination of rabies in vaccinated territories in Europe and North America. She has also worked on the design of several original AIDS vaccine candidates in collaboration with the Pasteur Institute, and conducted research on immuno-gene therapy targeting breast and cervical cancers with encouraging results. Dr Kieny has taught molecular virology, vaccinology and genetic engineering and directed the research of many doctoral candidates and undergraduates.

She received her PhD in Microbiology from the University of Montpellier in 1980, where she was also awarded a University Diploma in Economics, and her Diplôme d’Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches from the University of Strasbourg in 1995. Dr Kieny has published over 250 articles and reviews, mainly in the areas of infectious diseases, immunology and vaccinology.

Dr Kieny has been awarded the coveted Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite, au titre du Ministère de la Recherche (2000); the Prix Génération 2000-Impact Médecin (1994); and the Prix de l'Innovation Rhône-Poulenc (1991).

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