Man in suit sits at table with computer in front of him and Roanoke College sign behind him

Dr. Peter Hotez does a live interview with CNN about the J&J vaccine as he was visiting campus for Commencement in May. 

By Roanoke College News

Internationally recognized physician-scientist receives honorary degree

Dr. Peter J. Hotez, an internationally recognized physician-scientist in neglected tropical diseases and vaccine development, received an honorary Doctor of Science at the 2022 Roanoke College commencement ceremony on May 7.

The College recognized Dr. Hotez for his contributions to formulating and manufacturing a coronavirus vaccine for widespread distribution. A physician-scientist, he and his research team have worked recently to develop a new COVID-19 vaccine that can be distributed globally.

During his visit to the Roanoke College campus, Hotez served as guest speaker at the College’s Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony on May 6, where he spoke about his professional challenges and stressed to inductees the importance of charting a professional course that will make a difference. 

Hotez, who is founding dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, was introduced at the ceremony by Dr. Kirby Davis Deshotels ’12. Deshotels, a practicing pediatrician at Baylor, shared her connection as a former student at Roanoke College and at Baylor College of Medicine under Hotez, who also serves as professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor.

That evening, Hotez spoke to a group of Roanoke Valley medical professionals and Roanoke College faculty at the Jefferson Center in downtown Roanoke. He emphasized that public health education is key to solving current issues of vaccine misinformation and anti-science attitudes, and discussed his work with antipoverty vaccines and backlash for speaking out against a growing anti-science movement in the United States. Hotez also shared from his most recent book, “Preventing the Next Pandemic: Vaccine Diplomacy in a Time of Anti-science.”

In between speaking engagements at Roanoke College, Dr. Hotez used his downtime to give a live interview on CNN, one of several television networks on which he frequently appears as an expert on medical and vaccine research matters. Hotez also toured the Fralin Biometric Research Institute Vaccine Center at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke.

Hotez, who holds the Endowed Chair in Tropical Pediatrics and is the director of vaccine development at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, is the first physician-scientist to establish vaccine development and manufacturing facilities in developing nations for COVID-19 and other diseases.

Dr. Hotez is the author of numerous books, including "Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachael’s Autism" and "Blue Marble Health: An Innovative Plan to Fight Diseases of the Poor amid Wealth." He and his research partner, Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, have been nominated for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.

Hotez holds a B.A. from Yale University, a Ph.D. from Rockefeller University and an M.D. from Weill Cornell Medical College.