It is with great sadness that I received the news of the sudden death of Dr. Gustavo Kourí Flores on the afternoon of 5 May 2011 in Havana, Cuba, at the age of 75.
On behalf of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization and myself, I wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and colleagues.
For more than three decades Dr. Kourí was at the helm of the Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine, from which he recently received the honorary title of Founding Director. Since 1968 he served as Deputy Director of Research at the National Scientific Research Center (CENIC) and held various positions in the sphere of public health, linked also with scientific research. He was the author of over 200 articles and two books. Dengue was the main subject of his work and research.
Dr. Kourí devoted his professional life to research aimed at solving health problems with a significant impact in the countries of the Region--in particular work in connection with the microbiology and epidemiology of infectious diseases. He received his medical degree from the University of Havana and held a doctorate in biological sciences. He received awards and social and scientific honors, among them the Council of State’s Hero of the Work of the Republic of Cuba; the Carlos J. Finlay Order, and other Cuban and international awards.
His contribution was substantial, not only in his own country but in the Region and the world as well. From 2000 to 2002 he served as President of the Latin American Microbiology Society. In 2001, he was named a member of the PAHO/WHO Centennial Advisory Board, and from then to the time of his death was also a member of the International Society for Infectious Diseases. He was a member of the Joint Coordinating Board of the WHO Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases. In 2007, he joined the WHO Expert Group on Neglected Tropical Diseases.
An indefatigable fighter and loving friend, it was a privilege to know him and to work with him in the areas that he was, without a doubt, passionate about. We will miss him.