In Memoriam: Steven Meshnick, MD, PhD, FASTMH

Posted 7 August 2020

The Society mourns the loss of member Steven Richard Meshnick, MD, PhD, FASTMH, professor of epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, who died of cancer on August 5, 2020, at his home in Carrboro, N.C. He was surrounded by his wife, Dr. Mary McKinney, and four children, Maggie, Elijah, Leah and Laura.

Dr. Meshnick (pictured second from the right with colleagues from the DRC) was a member of ASTMH since 1981, serving on the Travel Awards committee and the AJTMH Editorial Board for more than 15 years. He loved the ASTMH community and the Annual Meeting was always a highlight of his year. The 2019 meeting, after his initial diagnosis, was the first meeting he missed during his tenure as an ASTMH member.

Though these meetings were a time for work, his light-heartedness and sense of humor would always shine through. In 2017, he was named a Fellow of ASTMH at the Annual Meeting in Baltimore. Immediately prior to his induction, his laboratory’s Baltimore Harbor pirate cruise ran late. This meant that Dr. Meshnick had to go straight to the opening ceremony from the boat without a chance to change. As a result, he was honored as a Fellow decked out in pirate garb. He often laughed about this experience. However, the highlight of the meetings was time spent with friends and colleagues gathered from around the globe. He cherished these relationships and time with people associated with ASTMH.


For nearly two decades, Dr. Meshnick was an integral member of UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and the UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases. He also had a joint faculty appointment in the UNC Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the UNC School of Medicine.

In a career that spanned over 40 years, Dr. Meshnick conducted formative research around the mechanisms of action of antimalarial drugs and the epidemiology of multiple pathogens that disproportionately affect the health of people in tropical and subtropical regions. He published over 350 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals. For his remarkable contributions to tropical medicine, he was inducted as a Fellow of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in 2017.

Although his work spanned the globe, including Kenya, Thailand, China, and Cambodia, Dr. Meshnick developed particularly strong bonds to The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Malawi. The research, capacity building and training he conducted around malaria, HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases in these countries will leave a lasting footprint and continue to improve the health of these regions for years to come.

Read the complete obituaries for Dr. Meshnick:

Remembering Steve Meshnick: Colleague, Mentor and Friend

Meshnick, influential scientist, generous mentor and keen-witted satirist, dies at 68


To honor Steve’s life and work

In the latter half of his career, Meshnick worked from the ground up to build a lasting partnership with public health researchers in the DRC. He designated the funds from his Larsh mentoring award to support the doctoral studies of Kashamuka (Kash) Mwandagalirwa, a longtime colleague and key collaborator in the DRC, as a means of supporting the global projects to which he had dedicated his life. He asked that those wishing to honor his life and work contribute to a fund that will support training of researchers and public health efforts in the DRC. Online donations may be made at Checks may be made payable to the UNC Health Foundation, with ‘Memorial gift in honor of Dr. Steven R. Meshnick’ on the memo line, may be mailed to the UNC Health Foundation, 123 W. Franklin St., Suite 510, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27516. For more information, write to Mary Margaret Carroll at the foundation.

Dr. Meshnick remained active in the laboratory throughout his career, pictured here teaching an undergraduate researcher how to perform malaria microscopy.

Here he is with his longtime collaborator Prof. Antoinette Tshefu in Kinshasa, DRC. Pictured here with mosquito traps at their malaria longitudinal study sites in Kinshasa Province, DRC.

Dr. Meshnick preparing for a malaria field study with partners in Kinshasa, DRC.

Dr. Meshnick invested in communities abroad and at home.  Pictured here giving high school students from Chapel Hill’s Burmese and Karen refugee communities a tour of his laboratory at UNC.

Dr. Meshnick was an avid singer-songwriter.  Pictured here performing songs from his suite of songs inspired by epidemiology and the history of medicine at an laboratory holiday party.