Rutgers Professor and Infectious Disease Expert Dies of COVID While Helping Family in India

·3 min read

Rutgers Health

A renowned infectious disease expert and Rutgers University professor has died after contracting COVID-19 in India.

Dr. Rajendra Kapila was visiting the country to help his family in New Delhi as India experiences a public health crisis due to recent surges in new COVID cases, according to ABC7.

His colleagues confirmed his death on Twitter Wednesday, expressing their grief and applauding Kapila's work.

"We have lost a giant in infection disease," wrote Nancy Connell, who is a professor and vice-chair for research in the Division of Infectious Disease in the Department of Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Connell added that Kapila "served as a leader in global infectious diseases" at Rutgers and the department "will be forever grateful for his contribution to global ID and remember his extraordinary diagnostic talent."

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

RELATED: India's COVID-19 Death Toll Surpasses 200,000 People as Other Countries Send Help

Kapila, 81, fell into an age group that is especially vulnerable to complications from the virus. He also had diabetes and heart complications, his ex-wife Dr. Bina Kapila told ABC7.

He'd decided he would stay in New Delhi for one week to help his family and provide his expertise.

"What can go wrong in one week? So he was only going to go for one week," his ex-wife said.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Dr. Bina Kapila, who was married to the professor for 40 years before they divorced a decade ago, said that her ex-husband was a uniquely gifted medical professional.

"He was so brilliant when we were in college, in medical school, that the professors of medicine after they gave a lecture, they would come to him and ask him, 'did I cover everything?'" she told ABC7.

Kapila had been practicing medicine in New Jersey for 50 years after receiving his medical degree from the University of Delhi, India, according to his Rutgers Health biography.

He served as the assistant chief of medicine for the U.S. Army in Okinawa, Japan, during the Vietnam War. After receiving his university and hospital appointments at Rutgers in the 1970s, he became a founding member of the New Jersey Infectious Disease Society.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting