Pierre Van Damme is full professor at the University of Antwerp, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. He chairs the Vaccine & Infectious Disease Institute (VAXINFECTIO, University of Antwerp); VAXINFECTIO is a consortium of three research units within the university: the Laboratory of Medical Microbiology (LMM), the Laboratory of Experimental Hematology (LEH), and the Centre for the Evaluation of Vaccination (CEV). It is recognized as ‘Centre of Excellence’ of the University of Antwerp and functions as WHO Collaborating Centre for the WHO European Region for the control and prevention of infectious diseases.
The CEV was founded in 1994 by Pierre Van Damme. The centre conducts research in 5 main areas: (1) (sero-)epidemiology of infectious diseases; (2) economic evaluation of public health interventions and mathematical modelling of infectious diseases; (3) assessment of protective efficacy and effectiveness of vaccines; (4) injection and diagnostic device research; (5) kinetics of vaccine-induced antibodies, including passive transfer of maternal antibodies.
Pierre Van Damme gained his MD from the University of Antwerp in 1984. He was recruited in 1985 to work on the epidemiology and prevention of hepatitis B in institutions for the mentally retarded. He subsequently obtained post-graduate degrees in health and economics, the evaluation of human corporal damage, and a master degree in occupational health. He obtained his PhD in epidemiology and social medicine in 1994 from the University of Antwerp, Belgium.
In 2000, he was appointed Professor at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Antwerp - he teaches infectious diseases and vaccinology in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences as well as in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, and within master programs in vaccinology at the University of Florence and Siena.
He has authored more than 350 peer-reviewed papers and is on the editorial board of several scientific journals that focus on the study of vaccines and vaccine-preventable infectious diseases. Professor Van Damme was awarded with the Research Award of the University of Antwerp, and in 2000 with the Belgian Social Medicine Award ‘Jean Van Beneden’ for his work on the introduction of universal hepatitis B immunization programs. In May 2014, he was awarded with the prestigious Bill Marshall award of the ESPID society.
Since 1994, he has served as the executive secretary of the Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board, a group of international experts dealing with topics on prevention and control of viral hepatitis. In 2016 he participated in the creation of a second expert board on HPV, the HPV control and prevention board. His current research projects at the University are focused on the epidemiology and prevention of vaccine-preventable infectious diseases, such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, diphtheria, pertussis, varicella, rotavirus, measles, HSV, influenza, Ebola, Chikungunya, HPV and polio (in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). His research also concerns public health, youth health and preventive health for sex workers. Since 1985 he has conducted more than 300 vaccine trials within the trial unit of the Centre for the Evaluation of Vaccination.
He has been for more than 10 years a regular advisor for national and international organizations, including the Flemish Vaccination platform, the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group, and the World Health Organization (European Regional Office and Headquarters). He has been appointed as chairman of the European Technical Advisory Group of Experts on communicable diseases and vaccines for the WHO European Region (ETAGE) (2004-2014). He is a member of the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine.