Erol Fikrig was born in Istanbul, Turkey, to a Turkish physician father and Scots housewife mother. He has one younger brother. The family moved to Queens, New York, when Fikrig was a young child, so he grew up in the United States. He attended public schools until high school, when he was sent to United Nations International School. He liked and did well in school, and played a number of sports as well. Fikrig was graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he very quickly eschewed anthropology and majored in chemistry. He decided early, influenced by both his father and his college roommate, to go to medical school. He attended Cornell's Weill School of Medicine in New York City. During his third and fourth years he studied in Brazil, where he became interested in vector-borne diseases. Interested in infectious disease and internal medicine, he did his residency at Vanderbilt University. From there he became a fellow at Yale, where he worked in Richard Flavell's laboratory. He was offered an assistant professorship in rheumatology at Yale, eventually becoming an associate professor and then full professor. He and his wife, a physician whom he met at Yale, have two children. Fikrig continues to study Lyme disease and other related diseases.
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