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Home > Our Work > Events Archive > 2013 Insights from the MERS Outbreak

Insights from the Front Lines of the MERS Outbreak

First identified close to a year ago, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has sickened nearly 100 people and killed more than half of those known to have been infected. Concerned about the similarities between MERS and the SARS coronavirus outbreak of 2003, health officials across the world have been following this outbreak closely since September 2012.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has been the epicenter of the global MERS-CoV outbreak, and the man responsible for KSA's response to MERS has been Dr. Ziad Memish, Deputy Minister of Health for Public Health, KSA.

On August 21, 2013, Dr. Memish joined Tom Inglesby to offer his frontline perspective on the outbreak in a discussion that touched on a wide range of topics, including the following:

  • Current status of the MERS-CoV outbreak

  • What has worked well in controlling disease spread

  • Major challenges that KSA and other affected countries have faced in responding to the outbreak

  • Practical challenges of sharing information about the outbreak with global partners.

  • The search for the source of the virus.


Video by Jim Folliard, Gearshift Productions


Dr. MemishZiad A. Memish, MD, FACP, FRCP(Can), FRCP(Edin), FRCP(Lond), FIDSA, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Ziad Memish is currently the Deputy Minister of Health for Public Health in Saudi Arabia and Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Mass Gathering Medicine. He is a consultant in adult infectious diseases at King Fahad Medical City; Professor in the College of Medicine, Alfaisal University & King Saud University in Riyadh, KSA; Adjunct Professor in the Hubert Department of Public Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University; and Honorary Professor, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Dr. Memish obtained his medical degree from the University of Ottawa in 1987. Additional qualifications include those from the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1990 and the American Board of Infectious Diseases in 1992, and the American Certification of Infection Control. He has received Fellowships in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in Internal Medicine (1991) and Infectious Diseases (1992). He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians (1993), the Infectious Diseases Society of America (1997), the Society of Healthcare Epidemiology of America (2000), and the Royal College of Edinburgh in 2011 and London 2012.

Dr. Memish has been Division Head, Infectious Diseases; Chairman, Department of Infection Prevention and Control; Executive Director, Infection Prevention and Control, at King Abdulaziz Medical City; and Director, Gulf Cooperation Council States and WHO Collaborating Center for Infection Control under Saudi National Guard Health Affairs. More recently, he has held the position of Assistant Deputy Minister of Health for Preventive Medicine from 2009 to April 2012.

International committee memberships include the Council of the International Society of Infectious Diseases, and, in 2013, member of the ISID Executive Board, member of the Executive Board of WHO, International Infection Control Informal Network at WHO, and the Core WHO Hand Hygiene Guidelines Committee in Geneva. He is a member of the WHO PIP framework committee and the TB STAG committee. On a regional level, he is a member of the Executive Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council States for the Ministers of Health, the WHO EMRO Research Advisory Group,WHO EMRO Regional Expanded Program for Immunization Advisory Group, and WHO regional network on Infection Control. Professor Memish is also the former Chairman of the SHEA External Affairs Committee. Nationally, he is the chair of the Hajj executive preventive medicine committee, in addition to more than 14 national committees, including the National AIDS Committee, the National Committee for Communicable Diseases, the National Immunization Technical Advisory Committee, and the National Committee for TB. He initiated and led the National Infectious Diseases training program from 2006 to 2011 at the Saudi Council for Health Specialities.

In November 2007, he was awarded by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud "The King Abdulaziz Medal from the First Degree," the highest national award in Saudi Arabia, for achievements in the field of infectious diseases and infection control.

Professor Memish has presented more than 250 abstracts internationally and published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers and chapters in books. A reviewer for 17 peer-reviewed journals, he initiated 2 journals for which he served as Editor-in-Chief: Journal of Infection and Public Health (2008-2012) and Journal of Epidemiology and Global Health (2011 to present). He is a senior editor of the open access journal Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control and corresponding editor of the International Journal of Infectious Diseases. Professor Memish is an editorial board member of Current Infectious Diseases Reports and the Journal of Chemotherapy.


Dr. Inglesby photoTom Inglesby, MD, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Dr. Inglesby is Director of the UPMC Center for Health Security, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to protecting people's health from the consequences of epidemics and disasters and to ensuring that communities are resilient to those challenges.

Dr. Inglesby's work is internationally recognized in the fields of public health preparedness, pandemic flu and epidemic planning, and biosecurity. He is Chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is Co-chair of the National Health Security Preparedness Index initiative. He has been chair or a member of a number of National Academy of Sciences committees, and he has served in an advisory capacity to the Defense Science Board, the Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security, and the National Institutes of Health. He has been invited to brief White House officials from the past 3 presidential administrations on national biosecurity challenges and priorities, and he has delivered Congressional testimony on public health preparedness and biosecurity. He is also on the Board of Directors of PurThread, a company dedicated to developing antimicrobial textiles.

During the past 15 years, Dr. Inglesby has authored or co-authored more than 80 peer-reviewed articles, reports, and commentaries on a wide range of issues related to health and security. He is Coeditor-in-Chief of the journal Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science, which he helped to establish a decade ago as the first peer-reviewed journal in its field. He was principal editor of the 2002 JAMA book Bioterrorism: Guidelines for Medical and Public Health Management. He is regularly consulted by major news outlets for his expertise.

Dr. Inglesby is Associate Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of Medicine and Public Health. He completed his internal medicine and infectious diseases training at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he also served as Assistant Chief of Service in 1996-97. Dr. Inglesby received his MD from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and his BA from Georgetown University. He continues to see patients in a weekly infectious disease clinic.

Conference Photos


L to R: Scott McNabb, Tom Inglesby, Ziad Memish, Anita Cicero, and Affab Shaikh


L to R: Affan Shaikh, D. A. Henderson,Tom Inglesby, Scott McNabb, Ziad Memish, Anita Cicero


Donald McNeill and Ziad Memish


D. A. Henderson and Ziad Memish


Tom Inglesby


Ziad Memish


Ziad Memish and Tom Inglesby


All photos by Kaveh Sardari



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