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Omar S. Alfi M.D.

1928 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Omar S. Alfi M.D. Obituary
March 26, 1928 - June 4, 2017 Dr. Omar S. Alfi passed away at the age of 89 on Sunday June 4 surrounded by his family. Dr. Alfi was a loving husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, world-class geneticist, Muslim leader, artist, educator, and so much more. He was the embodiment of dignity, grace, patience, humility, faith, and kindness. A Fulbright Scholar, pediatrician and geneticist, Dr. Alfi had a successful medical career in Egypt and Kuwait before immigrating with his family to the United States in 1970. Upon his arrival, he joined USC Children's Hospital of Los Angeles as the Head of the Division of Medical Genetics. During his tenure at CHLA, Dr. Alfi established a prenatal genetics counseling clinic and made advancements in prenatal diagnosis, and was appointed to the teaching staff at the University of Southern California focusing on ethics in medical genetics. Through his research he was able to identify a rare chromosomal anomaly known as Monosomy 9P or Alfi Syndrome. By coincidence, the children who have Alfi Syndrome reflect his personality, having an affectionate and cheery disposition. In 1981, Dr. Alfi established Alfigen, Inc./The Genetics Institute, as the first private full service cytogenetics laboratory in the United States. It subsequently became one of the largest private genetic laboratories in the country, providing genetic laboratory testing and clinical services nationally and internationally. While at Alfigen, Dr. Alfi focused his research specifically on the study of chromosome structure, forensic genetics, and ethics in genetic testing. Based on the laboratory protocols and procedures that he formulated, he was able to successfully complete cytogenetics analysis of amniotic fluid in seven days, while the standard of care at that time was four weeks. After his retirement, Dr. Alfi conducted research to develop stem cell therapy with the hopes of developing a more effective treatment for Hepatitis C, which has the highest prevalence in Egypt. Dr. Alfi has been a philanthropist and community leader since his arrival to the United States. Along with his wife, Azmeralda Alfi, they developed a vision for the Muslim community and were committed to transforming that vision into reality through planning, hard work, sacrifice, and faith. Together they dedicated their time to growing the Islamic Center of Southern California and elevating it into a leading mosque in the region. In the 1970's, they helped establish the Muslim-Catholic dialogue with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which was among the first Muslim interfaith initiatives in Los Angeles and was the predecessor to the Interfaith Council of Southern California. In the 1980's they created the New Horizon school system, which now has four campuses and has graduated thousands of students. In the 1990s, they founded the Aldeen Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports Islamic schools through teacher-professional development and educational scholarships. In the 2000's they funded an Islamic Law Chair at UCLA School of Law, as well as co-founded Bayan Claremont, an Islamic institution of higher learning, affiliated with the Claremont School of Theology. Dr. Alfi was a loving man of deep faith. Even in his final weeks, he continued to teach those around him through his patience, expressions of gratitude, and faith in God. He leaves behind a legacy of generosity, love, education, and a commitment to community. Dr. Alfi is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, his three children, eleven grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on June 11, 2017
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