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Medicine Loses Egyptian Muslim Pioneer, Adel Mahmoud

NEW YORK – Last week, the world lost the famous Egyptian Muslim biologist and physician, Dr. Adel Mahmoud, known for developing the lifesaving vaccines of Human papilloma virus (HPV) and Rotavirus.

The renowned expert in infectious diseases, who worked as a professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, died on June 11 in Manhattan, New York, of a brain hemorrhage.

As president of Merck Vaccines between 1998 and 2006, Mahmoud oversaw the creation of several vaccines that brought major advances in public health globally; one prevents rotavirus infection, a potentially fatal cause of diarrhea in babies; another one that protects against HPV, which causes cancers of the cervix, anus, genitals and middle of the throat.

Mahmoud also helped usher in a combination vaccine against measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox, and one to prevent shingles.

Revolutionary Progress

In a remarkable recognition of Mahmoud’s scientific achievements, Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, an executive vice president at Merck & Co., and former head of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told New York Times:

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“These vaccines were contentious subjects and might never have reached the market without Dr. Mahmoud’s determination.”

Last month, in a call to eliminate cervical cancer worldwide, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom, called HPV vaccines “truly wonderful inventions”.

Furthermore, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said:

“Dr. Mahmoud clearly had a knack for understanding the big picture. 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 was hailed by Bill Gates as “one of the greatest vaccine creator of our time.”

The US embassy in Egypt mourned Dr. Mahmoud whose work “contributed to major advances in public health, particularly in women and children’s health.”

Start of Path

The death of Mahmoud’s father of pneumonia has profoundly influenced the then ten-year-old child. He graduated in 1963 from the University of Cairo in Giza, Egypt with an M.D.

Then, he earned his Ph.D. from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK in 1971.

Afterwards, he was appointed as postdoctoral researcher at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, USA. Then eventually, he rose to chair the university’s Department of Medicine in 1987.