Sherif Zaki, a legendary disease detective at CDC, dies at 65

Sherif Zaki, a legendary disease detective at CDC, dies at 65

Stat, The Scientist, November 22, 2021

Current and former CDC officials spoke of a man with a unique ability to solve medical mysteries by studying tissues for the signatures of the infectious agent at play. “He really was kind of the secret weapon for a lot of what was done at CDC on emerging diseases,” said James LeDuc, who recently retired as director of the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Tom Ksiazek, a former CDC colleague and current professor of microbiology at UTMB’s Galveston National Laboratory, said Zaki pioneered the use of immunohistochemistry to identify foreign proteins in samples sent to the CDC, to help determine the underlying pathogens for a particular outbreak and understand the disease they caused. According to Ksiazek, Zaki’s reputation for cracking hard cases meant that the CDC has been enlisted to help solve outbreaks that other laboratories couldn’t.