Skip to Main Content

In Memoriam: Gregory Hayes Tignor, DSc

May 15, 2024

To the YSPH Community,

We write to share that Gregory Tignor, DSc, Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases) at the Yale School of Public Health, passed away peacefully at his home in Hamden on May 9, 2024.

Professor Tignor earned his Doctor of Science degree at Johns Hopkins University in 1969. After leaving Johns Hopkins he came to Yale where he joined the internationally known Yale Arbovirus Research Unit (YARU). He became an integral member of YARU, instituting stringent rules for biologic safety in laboratories where viruses were being studied. He went on to serve as YARU’s deputy director.

His research focused on the identification, characterization, and pathogenesis of zoonotic viruses that cause encephalitis in humans, including rabies, Ebola, Rift Valley Fever, and Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever. While conducting research in the field, he became known for developing spotted slides that could be used for rapid diagnosis using only small drops of serum.

Although his father’s dream was for him to earn a Doctor of Medicine degree, he explained later in life that as a Black man living in a segregated U.S. society, “the options that your father saw for you were few. You could become a colored teacher, a colored preacher, a colored doctor, or a colored lawyer. Whatever you became, your being was always prefaced by being colored.” However, his parents “never dared dream of a time and place in this country where a young Negro boy could aspire to becoming a professor at a predominately white university.”

A graveside service to celebrate his life and legacy will be held Saturday, May 18, at 10:30 a.m. at Whitneyville Cemetery in Hamden.

A viewing and visitation will be held Friday, May 17, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, May 18, from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. at Curvin K. Council Funeral Home at 128 Dwight Street in New Haven.

We share our condolences with his family, friends, and colleagues.


Megan L. Ranney, MD, MPH
Dean, Yale School of Public Health
C.-E. A. Winslow Professor of Public Health

Michael Cappello, MD
Professor and Chair, Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases Department

Submitted by Colin Poitras on May 15, 2024