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One of the world’s most renown microbiologist succumbs to COVID 19

Today I wish to pay tribute to a giant in the world of medical and veterinary microbiology, Professor Jacques Fouad Acar, who has just passed away, victim of COVID 19. He returned to France after attending a congress from the United States of America. Hospitalised on 20 March 2020, he died a week later.

Jacques was born in Dakar to Lebanese parents and later settled in Paris where he studied medicine. After his medical studies, he started doing research in microbiology at the Institut Pasteur and later at Harvard Medical School. He was appointed Head of the research unit on antibiotic resistance in 1972 at the faculty of medicine at the Pierre-et-Marie-Curie University in Paris and also headed the clinical microbiology departments in affiliated hospitals.

He has authored a countless number of authoritative publications and trained a large number of infectious disease specialists and microbiologists coming from all over the world. His contributions to our knowledge of microbiology and infectious diseases are immense and recognized worldwide.

He has been a founder of the European Society of Infectious Diseases, the International Society for Infectious Diseases and the Alliance for the Prudent use of Antibiotics.

After his retirement, his obsession on fighting antibiotic resistance persisted and as professor emeritus at Pierre-et-Marie-Curie University, he continued to work as a senior consultant to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as he was convinced that the abuse of antibiotics in the animal world was the main factor leading to the selection of antibiotic resistant bacteria

I have known Jacques at the OIE where I was a senior scientist and also at one time, responsible for the Ad Hoc Group on antibiotic resistance and the prudent use of antibiotics in animals. Jacques led the Group with remarkable expertise and ease. The Group later produced a document on the responsible use of antibacterials in veterinary medicine, that was adopted unanimously by all OIE Member countries and published as a chapter in the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code for governments to compulsorily follow.

In addition to his genius in microbiology and infectious diseases, Jacques Acar was a man of great culture, fully conversant with theater, painting and music amongst others. He was also a “Bon vivant” and was highly appreciative of good food. I recall that each time he participated in the OIE Ad Hoc Group, we had dinner in the best restaurants of Paris where we enjoyed everything he ordered.

Jacques Acar is a great loss to the world of microbiology and infectious diseases and will be difficult to replace.

It is hard to believe that such a giant in microbiology would one day fall prey to a small microbe!

The medical and veterinary services of Mauritius where antibiotic resistance is a major human and animal health concern, will, to my mind, benefit greatly from the works of Jacques Acar.

Rest in peace Jacques


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