Egypt’s Minister of Health, Hala Zayed, has issued a statement mourning Adel Mahmoud, the Egyptian-born world-renowned academic and creator of lifesaving vaccines.
Dr Mahmoud died of brain haemorrhage in a New York hospital on 11 June. He was 76.
Dr Zayed described Dr Mahmoud as the “pride of Egypt and Egyptians” and said that his pioneering work in the field of vaccines and the prevention of infectious diseases represented an invaluable service to humanity.
“In 1984,” the Health Minister’s statement said, “Dr Mahmoud was awarded the Oswald Avery Award by the Infectious Diseases Society in America; the award recognises outstanding achievement in the field of infectious diseases. His book ‘Tropical and Geographical Medicine: Companion Handbook’ has been described as the the bible on this topic, by Carlos Del Rio, MD, FIDSA, Hubert Professor and Chair, Hubert Department of Global Health and Professor of Medicine at Emory University.”
Adel Mahmoud was born in August 1941, in Cairo, the eldest of three children born to an agriculturist Father, Abdel-Fattah Mahmoud, and a mother who was a homemaker. He was the eldest of three siblings. When but 10 years old his father died and, as the oldest son, Mahmoud had to shoulder the responsibility of caring for the family.
The Health Minister’s statement, citing in part Princeton University’s obituary of Dr Mahmoud, went on to list his life journey and achievements as:
“He graduated in 1963 from Cairo University’s Faculty of Medicine. In 1971, he received a PhD from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
In 1973, he emigrated to the United States, where he became a postdoctoral researcher at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He later led the university’s division of geographic medicine and was chairman of the department of medicine from 1987 to 1998.
In 1998, Dr Mahmoud was recruited to serve as president of Merck Vaccines, a position he held until 2006. During his tenure at Merck, Mahmoud played a pivotal role in the development and commercialisation of new vaccines to help prevent severe gastroenteritis, human papillomavirus (HPV) and shingles, as well as the quadrivalent formulation of measles-mumps-rubella-varicella vaccine. As of 2017, more than 500 million doses of these four vaccines have been distributed globally, according to the company.
Retiring from Merck in 2006, Dr Mahmoud joined Princeton in 2011 as a professor of molecular biology.
Dr Mahmoud frequently provided scientific advice to the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Academies, the Rockefeller Foundation, and universities and research institutions around the world. He served as president of the International Society of Infectious Diseases from 1990-92 and on boards of directors at GAVI, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, International Vaccine Institute and several companies in the private sector.”
Dr Mahmoud is survived by his wife Sally Hodder, an infectious-disease specialist whom he married in 1993, and who he had first met in 1976 when he was a post doctoral fellow at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
In addition to Dr Hodder, he is survived by a stepson, Jay Thornton; his sister, Dr Olfat Abdel-Fattah; and his brother, Dr Mahmoud Abdel-Fattah.
Dr Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he had called on Dr Mahmoud many times to advise his institute. “He clearly had a knack for understanding the big picture,” Dr Fauci said. “He was a 40,000-foot kind of guy, who could understand areas of science, research, policy and clinical medicine well beyond his own specific designated area of expertise.”
Dr Mahmoud also had “an amazingly likable personality,” Dr Fauci said.
On his Twitter account, Bill Gates mourned Dr Mahmoud in a post that said:
“Earlier this month, the world lost one of the greatest vaccine creators of our time; Dr Adel Mahmoud saved the lives of countless children.”
24 June 2018