Irving Kenneth Zola (b.1935-d.1994)was an American activist and writer in medical sociology and disability rights. Irving was born in 1935 in Newton, MA, to a working class, Jewish family. He graduated from Boston Latin School and went on to enroll at Harvard College in 1956, and four years later went on to receive his Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard University Department of Social Relations. Soon after receiving his Ph.D. he briefly worked at Massachusetts General Hospital as a research sociologist before joining the Brandeis University Department of Sociology the next year in 1963, where he was the Mortimer Gryzmish Professor of Human Relations and taught until his death in 1994. During his time at Brandeis University, he worked with Everett C. Hughes. During his 30 years in the Department of Sociology, he served as chair of the department three times, and held a joint appointment at the Heller School. Zola was one of the co-founders of Boston Self Help Center, an organization that is focused on advocating and counseling people with diseases and disabilities. From 1982 to 1987, he also served on the center's board as executive director. The cause of Zola's death was a heart attack; he died while being transported to the hospital on an ambulance on December 1, 1994.