Professor, Institut Pasteur, Paris

Head of Research Unit – Ecology and Emergence of Arthropod-borne Pathogens

Principal Investigator – Pasteur International Center for Research on Emerging Infectious Diseases (PICREID)

Anavaj Sakuntabhai, MD, DPhil, is a Professor at the Institut Pasteur (Paris), where he was recruited in 2000 to develop a program on the genetics of infectious diseases. He is also the Director of the Institut Pasteur Japan office since 2020.

He discovered a variant on a promoter of DC-SIGN associated with gene expression and the outcome of Dengue virus infection. He published an important finding on the positive selection of G6PD (glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase) and its effect on Plasmodium vivax density in Science. His recent research has shown that both gene-gene and gene-environmental interactions play a significant role in susceptibility to malaria and Dengue fever. He successfully coordinated two important projects on genetic susceptibility to malaria and dengue involving teams from France, Thailand, Cuba, French Polynesia and Senegal. He has also coordinated a global network for Dengue fever research for the Institut Pasteur International Network. He proved that asymptomatic dengue-infected individuals could transmit the virus to mosquito vectors, which have a huge impact on dengue surveillance and control. In addition, he found that T cells are highly activated in asymptomatic as compared with symptomatic infections. The last two findings lead to a new concept of monovalent dengue and Zika vaccine development.

He has significant experience in the coordination of international programs and has been the coordinator of the European FP7 project on Dengue Framework for Resisting Epidemics in Europe (DENFREE). He was involved in investigating two recent global outbreaks of infectious diseases, Ebola and Zika. Currently, he is a leader of the Pasteur International Center for Research on Emerging Infectious Diseases (PICREID) – a multi-million dollars program supported by the NIH. The project is implemented in West, Central Africa, and South-East Asia, linking large observational multi-center cohort studies with basic scientific research and leading to increased preparedness for new epidemic threats in the region. Recently, he was appointed as the director of the Institut Pasteur Japan office to establish a trans-disciplinary network on Emerging Infectious Diseases between Japan, France, and countries in Africa and Indo- Pacific region. He is now an adjunct professor at McGill Genome Center, McGill University, a visiting professor at the Center for Genomic Medicine, Kyoto University, Institute of Medical Science, the University of Tokyo (IMSUT), and Nagasaki University