Richard Root

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Richard K. Root (1 December 1937 – March 19, 2006) was a clinical teacher at the University of Washington Medical Center and former chief of medicine at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. He launched the infectious disease division at the University of Pennsylvania while a professor there in 1971.[1]

After leaving the University of Pennsylvania, Root worked on infectious diseases at Yale University and served as vice chairman of medicine. In 1982 he was voted medical school teacher of the year. He subsequently became the Chief of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, where he was much admired by the residents and faculty as an academic leader, scholar, and teacher. He later became chief of medicine at Harborview 1991 and became an emeritus professor in 2002. He was a former president of the American Federation of Clinical Research, editor in chief of a textbook, Clinical Infectious Diseases, and, from 1986 to 1991, director of the National Institutes of Health's AIDS Advisory Committee.

Root received his MD from Johns Hopkins University in 1963. Residency and Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1963-1965. Chief Resident and Instructor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington from 1968-1969.

He was invited by the University of Pennsylvania Infectious Disease Department to help out on a project in Botswana. He intended to return to the United States at the end of April, but Root's life came to a sudden end three weeks later, due to a crocodile attack while on a wildlife tour of the Limpopo River. He was in the lead canoe with a guide when a 13-foot crocodile exploded from the water and wrenched him out of his seat and overboard. While at least one article has aligned the story to the popular notion of unstable dugout canoes flipping over,[2] the trip pictures taken by his wife reveal Root and his guide riding in a sound commercially-manufactured vessel. Witnesses state that the canoe shook but was not overturned.[3][4]


  1. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (21 March 2006). "Richard K. Root, Educator and Epidemiologist, Is Dead at 68". NYTimes. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "UW Medical School Professor Killed By Crocodile In Africa". 21 March 2006. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  3. ^ Ostrom, Carol (22 March 2006). "Botswana trip turns fatal for disease expert from Seattle". SeattleTimes. Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  4. ^ Maloney, Chris (8 July 2011). "An African Thank You". ShadowReports. Retrieved 4 April 2015.