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Global Health Policy Expert Adel Mahmoud Joins Princeton Faculty

Princeton, NJ – February 5, 2007 - Adel Mahmoud M.D., Ph.D., former president of Merck Vaccines and an expert on disease control in the developing world, has been appointed to the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University as a Senior Molecular Biologist. In addition, Mahmoud will have a joint appointment to the University’s Department of Molecular Biology as a Lecturer with the Rank of Professor.

Mahmoud’s research and teaching at the School will focus on medical and policy issues related to microbial threats – life-threatening transmissible diseases such as pandemic influenza and the use of microorganisms for bioterrorism – as well on the means by which vaccines are introduced into the developing world.

“My appointments to the Woodrow Wilson School and the Department of Molecular Biology will allow me to conduct research exploring how the international community responds to the continuous threat of infectious diseases, and how to reduce the barriers for accelerated introduction of key vaccines into poorer countries,” said Mahmoud. “On the one hand, officials and other experts in wealthy nations understand the threat and the burden of illness on their own populations, and have begun to develop effective implementation policies. But despite this, many who live in the developing world suffer from lack of appreciation of the global risk of infectious diseases and fall behind in introducing life-saving vaccines.”

Lack of access to vaccines is a major global health problem. For example, in 2006 Merck launched two new vaccines throughout economically developed countries for rotavirus, which causes severe diarrhea in children, and human papillomavirus (HPV), the main cause of cervical cancer. Rotavirus causes 650,000 deaths annually around the globe; 450,000 people are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and the disease causes 250,000 mortalities annually. However, to date there is no global effort to introduce these two vaccines in developing countries on any significant level.

“I couldn’t be more pleased that Adel Mahmoud will be joining us,” said Christina Paxson, Director of the Woodrow Wilson School’s Center for Health and Wellbeing and a Professor of Economics and Public Affairs. “Given his expertise in both scientific and policy issues, he will make important contributions to Princeton’s research on global health. He will also be a fantastic resource for our students.”

Previously, Mahmoud served as president of Merck Vaccines from 1999 to 2005. At Merck he was responsible for the company’s vaccine program that resulted in four new vaccines for rotavirus; HPV; shingles; and a combination vaccine for measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella, in addition to a significant development program for other vaccines including HIV.

Mahmoud was chairman of medicine and physician-in-chief at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland (1987-1998), and chief of geographic medicine (1977-1987).

His academic work spanned the spectrum of bench research, field investigations in developing countries and development of policy recommendations. Mahmoud was the first to develop specific antisera that defined the function of eosinophils, a type of white blood cells commonly associated with helminthic infections. These studies defined the protective role of eosnophils against muticellular organisms and the mediators of cytotoxicity. Further investigations focused on the immunology and molecular biology of schistosomes and other infectious agents.

Mahmoud’s clinical epidemiological investigations on schistosomiasis and other parasitic infections in Egypt, Kenya and the Philippines resulted in formulating the current global strategy for control of these infections which has been adopted by the World Health Organization. During the past two decades, Mahmoud has focused his attention on the problem of emerging infections at the national and global levels; he helped develop response policies and led the Forum on Microbial Threats of the Institute of Medicine to articulate clear policy alternatives to deal with bioterrorism, microbial resistance, impact of globalization on infectious diseased and containment strategies for pandemic flu.

“I am absolutely delighted that Adel Mahmoud will join us at Princeton,” said Lynn Enquist, Chair of the University’s Department of Molecular Biology. “He is a valued colleague, an outstanding teacher, and a man with extraordinary experience.  He knows the world of medicine and public health in a way few others do. Adel will help Molecular Biology and the Woodrow Wilson School innovate and invigorate our teaching efforts in biomedical policy, global health, and infectious disease.”

“We at the Woodrow Wilson School are excited Adel Mahmoud is joining our community,” added Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School. “His appointment strengthens our ties with the natural sciences here at Princeton, and in addition will strengthen our offerings in global health through the Center for Health and Wellbeing.”

Mahmoud was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1987. Currently, he is serving as a member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity and CSCANS of the National Academy of Sciences. He was president of the International Society for Infectious Diseases and former chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the U.S. National Center for Infectious Diseases. He served as chair of the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Microbial Threats, advising on a range of international health issues.  

Born in Cairo, Egypt, Dr. Mahmoud received his medical degree from the University of Cairo. He obtained his doctorate degree at the University of London, School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which he attended as a WHO fellow.

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