9 July 2018Big Pharma

LSIPR 50 2018: At the head of an experiment in innovation

Marie-Paule Kieny’s accomplishments in the life sciences sector are impressive to say the least.

During her time as assistant director general, health systems and innovation at the World Health Organization (WHO), her most notable achievements included bringing coherence to WHO’s work on health systems to support member states progressing towards Universal Health Coverage and successfully leading the work of WHO on research and development (R&D) against Ebola from 2014 to 2016.

Her other triumphs at WHO include the development and licensing of new vaccines against bacterial meningitis, as well as addressing the global supply of pandemic influenza vaccine through technology transfer and manufacturing, with a focus on developing countries.

She is now a board chair at the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) where her previous experience in understanding challenges—such as technical, managerial, political and financial obstacles—has helped her learn how to successfully adopt innovative technologies and interventions in fighting diseases.

In future Kieny—who received her PhD in microbiology from the University of Montpellier in 1980, and is the recipient of two highly-esteemed French awards—will enforce the key role innovation plays in controlling and eventually eliminating neglected infectious diseases at DNDi.

“Improved diagnostics are of course needed for better detection in resource-constrained settings, and new, safe and effective drugs are urgently needed,” she says.

She highlights that this demand is even more important as current treatment approaches are often not effective enough, especially where resistance grows. Another problem when it comes to current treatment approaches is that often they are not adapted to “dysfunctional health systems” and “poor environments”, says Kieny.

Not silver bullets

Neglected tropical diseases are diseases of poverty, she explains, and sufferers are already at a disadvantage when it comes to treating them. That’s where innovation comes in. “We cannot wait for these countries to become richer to treat patients,” she says.

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at