Lives of the fellows

Sornchai Looareesuwan

b.26 March 1949 d.22 July 2007
BSc Mahidol(1972) MD(1974) DTM&H(1978) FRCPT(1984) FACTM(1995) FRCP(2002)

Sornchai Looareesuwan was professor and dean of the faculty of tropical medicine, Mahidol University, Thailand, and a leading malaria researcher. He was born in Khon Kaen, north eastern Thailand, and studied medicine at Mahidol University, Bangkok, gaining his BSc in 1972 and an MD in 1974. In 1978 he completed a diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene, also at Mahidol.

In 1979 he joined the staff of the faculty of tropical medicine at Mahidol, initially as part of the newly-established Wellcome Trust-Mahidol University-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Programme. From the 1990s, he took on more administrative duties in the faculty, including serving two terms as dean.

From 2000 to 2004 he was programme manager of the Asian Centre of International Parasite Control at Mahidol. At the time of his death he was director of the emerging and re-emerging diseases research programme and head of the critical care research unit in tropical diseases of the faculty of tropical medicine, Mahidol University. He was also secretary general, coordinator and director of SEAMEO (Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization) Regional Tropical Medicine and Public Health Network.

From 2000 to 2005 he was president of the International Federation for Tropical Medicine. He was a member of a number of expert committees for malaria, and was a consultant and adviser to the World Health Organization.

His research was particularly focused on new antimalarial drugs: he carried out a series of large-scale clinical trials, including some of the original work on atovaquone and the artemisinin derivatives. With David Warrell from Oxford University he also studied venomous snakes.

He published around 500 journal articles, contributed to more than 50 textbooks and presented hundreds of papers at conferences. He was a member of the editorial or advisory boards of most of tropical medicine journals. He joined the editorial board of The Lancet Infectious Diseases in 2001, when the journal was launched.

He received many national and international honours, including, from his own country, the knight grand cordon of the Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand in 1998, the knight grand cordon (special class) of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant in 2001 and the companion (fourth class) of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn in 2005. He was a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the Royal College of Physicians of Thailand and the Australasian College of Tropical Medicine.

Sornchai Looareesuwan died in Bangkok, Thailand, of metastic hepatoma, and was survived by his wife, Vaewta and their twins Panita and Panu. The Professor Sornchai Looareesuwan Foundation was established in his honour, with the aim of supporting researchers in tropical medicine, in particular malaria research.

RCP editor

[Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease 6(3) May 2008 pp.168-9; The Lancet 2007 370 734; The Lancet Infectious Diseases Vol 7 Issue 9 p.570, Sept 2007]

(Volume XII, page web)

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