We Were There
“Honoring Sherif Zaki – the Science and the Man”

On April 26, “We Were There” honored the late Sherif R. Zaki, MD, PhD.

Dr. Zaki was the founder and branch chief of CDC’s Infectious Disease Pathology Branch (IDPB). He joined CDC in 1988 and held several leadership positions in molecular and experimental pathology, lastly as IDPB chief. Dr. Zaki died unexpectedly last November.

During his tenure at CDC, Dr. Zaki’s vision and determination took the pathology laboratory to the forefront of the agency’s work in responding to public health threats posed by various infectious disease agents. He established this team to be as one of the most highly respected infectious disease pathology laboratories in the world. Under his leadership, IDPB worked closely with scientific teams in all of CDC’s infectious disease programs.

The “We Were There” series features personal perspectives from CDC researchers on past and present historically important, CDC-led epidemiologic and laboratory investigations. This special presentation honors Dr. Zaki as a beloved colleague, friend, and scientist.

Program Hosts

Rima Khabbaz MD  
Former Director, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases, CDC


Inger Damon MD, PhD, FIDSA

Director, Division of High Consequence Pathogens & Pathology, CDC


Chris Paddock MD, MPHTM  
Microbiology Team Lead, Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, CDC



James Hughes, MD 
Professor Emeritus of Medicine at Emory 
Director of National Center for Infectious Diseases, CDC, from 1992-2005 
“Critical Role of Pathologists in Epidemic Detection and Response”


Jeff Koplan, MD 
Senior Strategic Advisor – Emory Global Health Institute (EGHI); Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMP) and International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI) 
CDC Director, 1998 – 2002 
Sherif Zaki: A Superstar in the CDC Galaxy”


Thomas Ksiazek, DVM, PhD 
Professor, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 
“Historical Glimpse of History Being Made:  Sherif Zaki and the Special Pathogens Branch”


Ruth Lynfield, MD 
State Epidemiologist and Medical Director, Minnesota Department of Health 
“Promoting Partnerships to Explain the Unexplained”


David Walker, MD 
Professor, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 
“Crossroads in Our Lives”


John Crump, MB ChB, MD, DTM&H 
Professor of Medicine, Pathology, and Global Health 
Co-Director, Otago Global Health Institute, University of Otago, New Zealand 
“Unassuming, Generous Virtuoso Who Improved Our World”


Wun-Ju Shieh, MD, MPH, PhD, DrPH 
Visiting Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Taipei Medical University 
“Captain Zaki and the Final Frontier of Pathogens”

Honoring Dr. Sherif Zaki – Tribute Video

CDC Colleagues and friends honor the recently deceased Sherif Zaki. Learn about his contributions and how he developed one of the most highly respected infectious disease pathology laboratories in the world.

Page last reviewed: April 29, 2022
Content source: