Adel A. Mahmoud

Photo of Adel Mahmoud
Lecturer with rank of Professor in Molecular Biology and Public Policy, Woodrow Wilson School
Thomas Laboratory, 228

Faculty Assistant

Ellen Brindle-Clark

Research Area

Microbiology & Virology

Research Focus

Global health: infectious disease; burden of illness; expanding threat; vaccines and control strategies
Infectious diseases are major contributors to the global burden of illness in terms of morbidity and mortality. Over the past few decades and in spite of earlier achievements in controlling few major infections, the global effort is being undermined by emergence or re-emergence of new pathogens, development of resistance in microbes and their vectors and the added threat of intentional use of microorganisms to cause harm. The global community is less than prepared to address these challenges. For example, the ability to detect and assess these threats is modest and tools for responding by antimicrobials, vaccines or environmental adjustments are not keeping pace with the expanded threats. The problems are compounded by absence of political will at global or national levels.

My research focus is on two areas related to global infection. First is a detailed examination of causes of emergence and re-emergence of microorganisms. These include evolution of human-microbe relationship, environmental and genetic influences and the role of selective pressures e.g. antimicrobials on development of resistance in the causative organisms or their insect vectors. Several strategies for controlling infectious disease at the national level, are being examined, including chemotherapy, vaccines and community containment. As an extension of this area, I became involved in examining the intersection of life sciences and national and global security. Dual use technology raises multiple concerns. The challenge is to maintain the culture of science openness and free communication balanced with responsibility and awareness.

The second major area of investigations involves discovery, development and global deployment and use of vaccines. Among infectious diseases control measures, vaccines have proven most effective and cost saving. Over the past decade, I have led the effort to develop and launch four new vaccines. These include vaccines for infection with rotavirus, human papillomavirus, shingles and combination of measles, mumps, rubella and varicella. While these and other previously developed vaccines should have an impressive impact on the global burden of illness from infectious disease, the reach of vaccines and their central role in controlling infection is inadequate. A detailed examination of the global gap in vaccination is being conducted as well as strategies for expanding their beneficial role at public health and policy levels.

Adel A. F. Mahmoud, M.D., Ph.D, is at The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and The Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University . He has recently retired as President of Merck Vaccines and member of Management Committee of Merck & Company, Inc.   His prior academic services at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland spanned 25 years concluding as Chairman of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief from 1987 to 1998.

Dr. Mahmoud's academic pursuits focused on investigations of the biology and function of eosinophils particularly in host resistance to helminthic infections as well as determinants of infection and disease in human schistosomiasis and other infectious agents.   At Merck, Dr. Mahmoud led the effort to develop four new vaccines which have been launched in 2005-2006, including: combination of Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella; Rota Virus; Shingles and Human Papillomavirus.   Dr. Mahmoud's leadership in setting strategies for Global Health shaped the agenda of the Forum on Microbial Threats of the Institute of Medicine in recent years by tackling topical issues such as biological threats and bioterrorism; SARS; Pandemic Flu and others.   He is an active contributor to scientific literature and authored and edited several textbooks and reports.

Dr. Mahmoud received his M.D. degree from the University of Cairo in 1963 and Ph.D from the University of London , School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 1971.   He was elected to membership of the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 1978, the Association of American Physicians in 1980 and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1987.   He received the Bailey K. Ashford Award of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in 1983, and the Squibb Award of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in 1984.   Dr. Mahmoud is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Parasitic Diseases of the World Health Organization.   He served on the National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council and is a past president of the Central Society for Clinical Research and the International Society for Infectious Diseases.   He is currently serving as a member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity and Committee on Scientific Communications and National Security (CSCANS) of the National Academy of Sciences.


  • Honorary Degree , Case Western Reserve University