Dinner in support of the work of the Institut Pasteur and Foundation [fr]
The Hon. Christophe Lemoine, Consul General of France in Los Angeles, organized a private dinner at the Residence of France on 14 June 2017 on the occasion of the visit of Professor Christian Bréchot, President of Institut Pasteur, and the Pasteur Foundation (US).
With its broad international network of 33 institutes in 26 countries, Institut Pasteur, which is celebrating its 130th anniversary, is one of the top 10 scientific research institutions in the world. Institut Pasteur, recipient of 10 Nobel Prizes, is a non-profit organization funding medical research, treatment of diseases, education and public health initiatives.
Guests from the scientific, business and cultural communities, along with leading philanthropists, attended the evening festivities. The gathering afforded guests to meet and exchange conversation with Christian Bréchot and Lawrence Ayong, PhD, from Institut Pasteur Cameroun. Guests included: Patrick and Michele Soon-Shiong (Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation, which has already contributed $ 1 million to the "Pasteur Global Health Genomics Center" in 2015), figures from film and television, including Mark Burnett [MGM Television] and Roma Downey [Lightworkers], and were joined by Ted Richane [Vulcan Productions, co-producer of Unseen Enemy], Mark Smolinski [Chief Medical Officer, Global Health Threats] , Jennifer Olsen (Manager, Pandemics, Skoll Global Threats), singer and actress Nita Whitaker, and from the art world, Vladimir Kush. Executives from the biotechnology field Alex Dickinson [Chromacode], David-Alexandre Gros [Neurocrin], François Maisonrouge [Evercore Partners] were also in attendance.
The evening was introduced by Consul General Christophe Lemoine who recalled the major role played by the Institut Pasteur’s International Network established in 1891. In doing so, Louis Pasteur effectively founded the field of global health when he discovered, among other things, the vaccine for Rabies and introduced sterilization or ‘Pasteurization’ to the world. Professor Bréchot continued with remarks about the essential role of the International Network in research, especially on infectious diseases, but also on cancer, vaccine development, diagnostics, and the neurosciences. The Pasteur Institute also plays a leading role in Global Health Security. Dr. Bréchot stressed the importance of philanthropic support, which represents over 1/3 of Institut’s budget.
The documentary, "Unseen Enemy", directed by Janet Tobias (Sierra Tango productions) in co-production with CNN, Arte and Vulcan Productions, was presented during the dinner by Kristin Stoffels, of Sierra Tango productions. The documentary features stories on global health pandemics. In particular, Ms. Stoffels highlighted the team’s experiences during their Ebola filming in West Africa with Dr. J. Soka Moses, who led an Ebola Treatment unit in Monrovia, Liberia. She described how his heroism and perseverance saved many lives. She also highlighted the importance of training programs and congratulated local health personnel for their capacity to respond to emerging, re-emerging or established infectious diseases, reminding the audience that what happens in Africa can happen anywhere.
The evening also featured a speech by Dr. Lawrence Ayong, researcher at the Pasteur Institute of Yaounde, Cameroon, who came especially for the occasion. He spoke of the importance of the field work of the Pasteur Institutes and reminded guests that much remained to be done, particularly in the fight against Malaria. Today, two and a half billion people are exposed: the disease is endemic in about a hundred countries of the intertropical zone, as well as in the United States. Each year, it causes between 300 and 500 million cases worldwide and around one million deaths, in 90% of cases in Africa. On that continent alone, a child dies of Malaria every 30 seconds: the disease is responsible for almost 20% of infant mortality.
The dinner came to a close with a final speech by the Consul General, quoting General de Gaulle: "There are three things in France that must always be carefully preserved and protected ... the Eiffel Tower, the Collège de France and the Pasteur Institute.” After tonight’s program, I think you will all agree with President De Gaulle.”, and recalling one more time the importance of the research carried out by the Institutes, whose results benefit directly the most disadvantaged populations in the world.