Elizabeth Pisani is an incurable analyst. She started her working life reporting on politics and the economy in several Asian country for Reuters and the Economist. Then she turned to epidemiology. For years, she trailed through red light districts and nightclubs, researching patterns of risk behaviour and HIV transmission in Asia and Africa on behalf of UNAIDS, the WHO and the governments of Indonesia, China and elsewhere.
Her first book The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels and the Business of AIDS argued that the HIV epidemic reached unnecessarily large proportions because financial, political and institutional interests had bulldozed the facts and common sense. In part, that’s because the public health establishment lives in a fantasy world in which scientific evidence is more important than politics.
Pisani last made a living working with some of the major funders of public health research to integrate research into communities and to break down barriers to sharing research data. For the last three of years, however, she’s been playing truant, working on a book about Indonesia, a complex country that has fascinated and maddened her since she first lived there over two decades ago.
Pisani holds an MA in Classical Chinese from Oxford, an MSc in Medical Demography from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and a PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, also from LSHTM.
(Image credit: Marit Miners)