Sherif Zaki, who was the chief pathologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and helped diagnose previously unknown infectious diseases around the world, including influenza and other viral and bacterial illnesses, died Nov. 21 at an Atlanta hospital. He was 65.
He had complications from an accidental fall at home, said his wife, Nadia Zaki.
Dr. Zaki, who was both a physician and a PhD scientist, combined clinical know-how with the expertise of a laboratory investigator as he sought to solve a host of medical mysteries. As the founder and chief of the CDC’s Infectious Disease Pathology Branch, he was at the forefront of efforts to identify numerous deadly diseases, including the hantavirus, West Nile virus, the Ebola and Zika viruses, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the current global pandemic of covid-19.
“Dr. Zaki was critical in diagnosing unexplained illness and outbreaks that allowed CDC and public health to respond more quickly and save lives,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.