Pierre Van Damme obtained his MD from the University of Antwerp, Belgium, in 1984. He received 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, University of Antwerp. He is currently full professor at the University of Antwerp, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences where he had chaired the Vaccine & Infectious Disease Institute (VAXINFECTIO, University of Antwerp) from 2007 till 2018, and now became vice-dean of the Faculty. He is now the honorary chair of the VAXINFECTIO, University of Antwerp - a consortium of four research units he founded in 2007-2008: the Laboratory of Medical Microbiology (LMM), the Laboratory of Experimental Hematology (LEH), the Centre of Health Economic Research and Infectious Disease Modelling (CHERMID), 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.
Pierre Van Damme founded the CEV in 1994, and he still is the director of the CEV. The centre conducts research in 4 main areas: (1) (sero-) epidemiology of infectious diseases; (2) vaccine trial studies including assessment of safety, protective efficacy and immunogenicity of preventative as well as therapeutic vaccines; (3) injection and diagnostic device research; (4) kinetics of vaccine-induced antibodies, including passive transfer of maternal antibodies and maternal immunization.
Pierre Van Damme has authored more than 400 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 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. In October 2017 he was awarded by the ACRP (Association of Clinical Research Professionals) with the European Outstanding Leadership Award; and end of 2017 with the prestigious Paul Harris Fellowship by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. He obtained in 2019 the Balmis distinction Award (Almeria, Spain) and the AHA Antwerp Innovation award.
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 Human Papilloma Virus (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, Lassa, shigella, HPV and polio (in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). Since 1985 he has conducted more than 410 vaccine trials within the trial unit of the Centre for the Evaluation of Vaccination. Recently his team has conducted a unique project for the Gates Foundation – a novel vaccine trial in quarantine conditions.
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) (2005-2015). He is a member of the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine since 2008, and of the board of UNICEF Belgium (2010-2018).