In Memoriam: Pengfei Gao, PhD, CIH

​Posted October 19, 2016

AIHA Fellow Pengfei Gao, PhD, CIH, passed away on Monday, Oct. 3, 2016. An active member of AIHA’s volunteer community, Gao served on the association’s Protective Clothing and Equipment and Aerosol Technology Committees. Most recently, he co-authored the cover article of the September 2016 Synergist, “Protecting Workers against Zika.”

Gao, a research physical scientist at the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL), joined the agency’s Health Effects Laboratory Division of NIOSH in 1996. He transferred to NPPTL in 2001, and served as the personal protective equipment coordinator for NIOSH’s Nanotechnology Research Center. According to NIOSH, Gao was internationally recognized for his research on chemical protective clothing, and his recent projects included work on protective gown research stemming from the Ebola outbreak.

“Throughout his career, Pengfei served as a mentor to many summer students, junior researchers, and postdoctoral fellows,” NIOSH’s e-newsletter reads. “Dr. Gao was the author or co-author of 30 manuscripts published in peer-reviewed journals and several NIOSH numbered documents.”

In 2016, Gao was nominated and accepted for an adjunct professorship at North Carolina State University’s Textile Engineering, Chemistry, and Science Program.

Gao received many honors and awards throughout his career, including AIHA’s Volunteer Group Service Award for his dedication and service to the Protective Clothing and Equipment Committee, excellence in research and writing, and furthering the mission of the committee and the profession; the 2012 AIHA David Swift Memorial Award for the Outstanding Aerosol Paper of the Year; and the 2012 NIOSH Alice Hamilton Award Honorable Mention in the category of engineering and controls. In 2011, he received the NIOSH Bullard Sherwood Research to Practice Award in the knowledge category for “Approaches to Safe Nanotechnology: Managing the Health and Safety Concerns Associated with Engineered Nanomaterials.” He received CDC’s highest innovation award, the CDC Director’s Innovation Award, in 2008 for the development of the permeation calculator computer software for automated and standardized analysis of chemical protective clothing permeation data. 

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden (left) and Pengfei Gao (right) at the CDC awards ceremony in April 2016. Photo courtesy of CDC/NIOSH.