CIRAD's Thierry Lefrançois is the first veterinarian appointed to the French Scientific Council on Covid-19

Institutional news 17 February 2021
Thierry Lefrançois, a specialist in health networks and integrated approaches at CIRAD, has just been appointed to the French Scientific Council on Covid-19. For the first time, a veterinarian has thus joined the experts on this council, which was set up last March to inform public policy decisions on the management of the health crisis, with the French Ministry for Solidarity and Health.
Thierry Lefrançois is now a member of the French Scientific Council on Covid-19 © F. Dunouau, CIRAD
Thierry Lefrançois is now a member of the French Scientific Council on Covid-19 © F. Dunouau, CIRAD

Thierry Lefrançois is now a member of the French Scientific Council on Covid-19 © F. Dunouau, CIRAD

Our public policies must specifically and fully fit into a One Health approach. Effectively controlling the emergence and spread of certain diseases requires better consideration of the interactions between humans, animals and their environment”, said Julien Denormandie, French Minister of Agriculture and Food, regarding the appointment of CIRAD’s Thierry Lefrançois, the first veterinarian to join the Scientific Council on Covid-19. The appointment was announced on 17 February in the French Official Journal.

The last few decades have been marked by health crises that have often revealed the interdependence between animals, humans and ecosystems. This is shown by several zoonotic diseases such as rabies, avian and swine influenza viruses, salmonellosis, and of course Covid-19. Preserving biodiversity and ensuring the biosecurity of livestock production systems, by means of a One Health approach, can help to prevent the emergence and spread of these diseases.

This appointment is emblematic of the desire to bridge the gap between the three fields of health: animal, human and environmental. “At CIRAD, we have been implementing the One Health concept for more than ten years, through a multisectoral, multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach that incorporates all types of health”, says Thierry Lefrançois, Director of CIRAD's Biological Systems Department, whose work focuses on the living world and its diversity, from the genome up to the socio-ecosystem.

This appointment recognizes not just a prominent scientist, but an entire profession, a field of expertise and capacity to lead international networks. “Veterinarians have in-depth knowledge and experience of coronaviruses, animal diseases, interspecies transmission, predictive epidemiology and the multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder approaches that can anticipate crises.” That knowledge is applied to numerous diseases and in numerous projects at CIRAD.

Through his new role, Thierry Lefrançois is thus hoping to mobilize a vast network of peers, both in France and worldwide.

A short biography for Thierry Lefrançois

Thierry Lefrançois is a Chief Inspector for veterinary public health, and has been working at CIRAD for more than 20 years on the diagnosis, epidemiology and control of tropical animal diseases. In particular, he has worked in Burkina Faso, Kenya and Guadeloupe. His research activities have focused on disease emergence and the development of links between research and surveillance within regional health networks in the global South.

He is currently Director of CIRAD's Biological Systems Department, which covers research units working on animal health, plant health, plant adaptation and biodiversity.

He is currently a member of the INRAE Scientific Advisory Board, and has also been Chair of the Science Council of the Ecole national vétérinaire de Toulouse, a member of the Comité national d’épidémiosurveillance en santé animale (CNESA), and an expert for the French alliance AVIESAN, the French National Research Agency (ANR), and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).