Dr. Sherif R. Zaki, director of the Center for Investigative Medicine and a medical researcher whose work helped lead to several anti-smoking laws, died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at his home on Monday. He was 65.
Mr. Zaki, who retired from his job at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 2016, took a street-level approach to investigate noncommunicable diseases, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
He began studying smoking and addiction as a way to try to understand how humans could develop excessive appetite and, subsequently, diseases such as heart failure, asthma and asthma.
Doctors and experts in addiction studies had long figured that people who developed dependence on nicotine eventually killed themselves by smoking too much, Mr. Zaki said in an interview last year.
He went a step further. He wanted to learn why this cycle occurred.
“Why did they start using drugs in the first place?” he asked in a 2016 interview with NPR. “How did it go from someone smoking a cigarette to a person smoking 50 cigarettes a day?”
He identified cancer as a path toward addiction, “but there are also about 100 other human-like diseases that can be implicated in the opioid and other addictions,” he said.