When the topic of poultry diseases or the science behind the transmission of influenza viruses between animal species is discussed anywhere in the world, odds are the name of Mo Saif will come up in those discussions. And there's also a good chance those doing the talking have been impacted by his work or his mentoring.
The head of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center's Food Animal Health Research Program since 1993, Saif retired early this year, following an illustrious career of more than 50 years in both Egypt and the United States.
Saif is recognized internationally as a leading researcher in the field of poultry diseases, having discovered and advanced knowledge concerning viral infections that affect the intestinal tract and the immune system of turkeys and chickens.
He was also a pioneer in figuring out how influenza viruses can be shared between different animal species, such as turkeys and swine, and how they change in the process. Saif's research in this arena has also contributed to the medical community's understanding of influenza viruses that jump from animals to humans.
"But his legacy does not stop there," says Jeff LeJeune, an Ohio State microbiologist and veterinary researcher who has taken the helm at FAHRP. "He is also respected for his compassionate, yet exceedingly effective leadership style, which has positively impacted hundreds of scientists around the world now serving in a variety of scientific pursuits."
Many of those scientists traveled to Wooster in January to join Saif at his retirement reception. One of them, Chris Hayhow, director of regulatory affairs for animal healthcare company Merial Limited, is one of the 33 graduate students Saif advised during his career at Ohio State.
"Mo gave you the tools to do things on your own, and if you failed, he'd help work through it. He didn't just tell you: He'd show you," says Hayhow, who first met Saif in 1988. "He is one of the best listeners I've ever known. And he always trusted people to do things right."