Dr. Sherif Zaki, a medical pioneer and a renowned disease detective, dies

Dr. Sherif R. Zaki, President of the Arab Institute of Medicine, and a renowned disease detective, has died at 65 in a London hospital after a series of complications following heart surgery in July.

Dr. Zaki worked in Dubai as well as in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, helping scientists to identify common diseases including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and strokes.

He was a founder and executive director of WCCO, the Center for Child Health and Disease Prevention, a partnership of the University of Michigan, NYU Langone, Johns Hopkins and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Zaki moved to Kuwait when he was just 20 years old to study for a medical degree at the Kuwaiti Medical School, later moving to Saudi Arabia to continue his studies. His career in medicine began in 1994 in Riyadh.

Two years later, he joined the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, where he led his division of clinical human genetics for more than a decade.

In 2010, he returned to the Gulf and was called back to Kuwait. He said in an interview with CNN at the time that he felt his being able to stay in the Gulf “allows me to contribute something great” to human health.

Dr. Zaki had been in London after a stroke in July. A spokesman for the Arab Institute of Medicine said he became unwell the same day and was admitted to the Churchill Hospital. He died on Sunday night, in the hospital, the spokesman said.

A book of condolence has been opened at the institute. It’s not clear whether a funeral will be held in Kuwait.

Dr. Zaki is survived by his wife of 40 years, Reem Nasser Zaki, and two sons.


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