Houston doctor fights Zika and other infectious diseases

HOUSTON – Fortune Magazine just named a Houston scientist as one of 34 leaders changing health care in America.

“So, what we’re doing here, this is often the first step in our process for making vaccine,” says Dr. Peter Hotez, as he gives KHOU 11 a tour of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.

He’s the head of that center and he’s the founding dean of the Baylor College of Medicine National School of Tropical Medicine. He was among the first to sound the alarm on Zika in America.

Dr. Hotez is an expert on infectious diseases and is on a campaign to save lives that often leads him away from the lab.

“I also have a foot planted in public engagement. Like, warning the public about Zika, speaking to public audiences and writing for the New York Times,” says Hotez.

He’s also an advocate for those impacted the most by diseases like Zika such as those who live in poverty.

“Because people don’t have window screens, they don’t have air conditioning, there’s a lot of environmental degradation around their homes,” says Hotez.

His passion is working on vaccines he says the pharmaceutical companies aren’t interested in, because they affect primarily,  people in poverty.

“I don’t see myself as a hero, I see myself as a scientist with a conscience who wants to do the right thing,” says Hotez.

He also helped lead global efforts to provide access to essential medicines to fight tropical diseases. Thanks to his efforts, Baylor College of Medicine has provided access to this kind of medication for more than 450 million people.

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