Microbiologist and former UNAIDS executive director Peter Piot. Photo by: Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO — Peter Piot is a world renowned microbiologist, but only so much progress can be made within the laboratory, the former UNAIDS executive director told Devex.

In 1976, a patient died of a mysterious illness at Yambuku Mission Hospital in Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A month after patient zero was hospitalized, and after several dozen patients developed hemorrhagic fevers, blood samples from a nun who died were sent to the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium.

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About the author

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    Catherine Cheney

    Catherine Cheney is a Senior Reporter for Devex. She covers the West Coast of the U.S., focusing on the role of technology, innovation, and philanthropy in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. And she frequently represents Devex as a speaker and moderator. Prior to joining Devex, Catherine earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale University, worked as a web producer for POLITICO and reporter for World Politics Review, and helped to launch NationSwell. Catherine has reported domestically and internationally for outlets including The Atlantic and the Washington Post. Outside of her own reporting, Catherine also supports other journalists to cover what is working, through her work with the Solutions Journalism Network.