One of the things I love about JIDC is that it brings together so many people from so many different countries and cultures. When I first started the JIDC blog, I invited everyone in the JIDC community to contribute posts in which they share their science experiences working in a culture different from their own. We’ve had some great posts about adventures in Brazil, China, Vietnam and other places. This week, I am pleased to share Dr. Asgar Nazeer’s story. He is an accomplished scientist and medical doctorand a recent JIDC author. Dr. Nazeer’sPostcard reflects his life as a researcher as well as his personal values thathe carries through to his work. It is this kind of spirit and caring that drive the dedication behind JIDC. His story is inspiring!
Dr. Asghar Nazeer, MBBS, MPH, MHS, DrPH (Johns Hopkins)
Dr. Asghar Nazeer, together with Dr. Jaffar Al-Tawfiq, is the author of a review article “Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus metrics for patients in Saudi Arabia” published in the March issue of JIDC. JIDC came to know that Dr. Nazeer has been selected as a Member under Spotlight for March 2012 by the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health. He was originally inducted into the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health, Alpha Chapter (the society’s founding chapter) in 1994 at Johns Hopkins University and elected as a Lifetime Member in 1995. He is a committed member of the Delta Omega Mentor Network. Dr. Nazeer has more than 27 years’ experience in public health, epidemiology, and clinical medicine. Over the course of his career, Dr. Nazeer has been at the forefront of public health practice. He has won several medals, honors and awards in his homeland and in the United States. JIDC blog therefore took the opportunity to invite him to share his story regarding how he started his career and how his education and research in Johns Hopkins University transformed his calling as a doctor.
Dr. Nazeer originates from Pakistan. He a was an outstanding student throughout his high school and college years and won National Talent Scholarships and three gold medals including a Prime Minister of Pakistan Gold Medal for his academic achievements. He graduated in 1983 from King Edward Medical University, the most prestigious school of medicine in Pakistan. He worked as a physician for five years in leading centers-of-excellence offering post-graduate training programs in medical specialties. He was commended as a physician by his patients, superiors, and colleagues and was concentrating in clinical cardiology for advanced certification. However, he was touched by the suffering of his patients and realized that “prevention is better than cure” is not just a cliché but a sound fact. Instead of dealing with the illness of one patient at a time, he thought he should serve populations at large by promoting health and preventing disease. He then decided to leave the lucrative career of a physician and voluntarily adopted public health as his calling to serve the humanity for the greatest good of the greatest number.
As his first public health assignment, he joined the Federal Ministry of Planning and Development, Pakistan, as Assistant Chief of Health Section in 1989 where he contributed to health policy formulation and health-care planning at the national level. He participated in planning, implementing, and evaluating nationwide projects focusing on prevention. In that capacity, he represented his Ministry in projects involving collaboration between the Government of Pakistan and international agencies such as the WHO, UNICEF, World Bank, UNICEF and USAID.
His academic excellence and extensive experience in health policy and planning contributed to his winning the internationally competitive World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program’s Fellowship for studies at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where he earned MPH, MHS, and DrPH degrees. He won the Advising, Mentoring and Teaching Recognition Award, William H. Draper Fellowship, and Friends of International Health Student Scholarship Award and was inducted into Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health, Alpha Chapter.
After completing his coursework for the Dr PH degree at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Nazeer had to leave the USA to attend to his ailing mother, who relied on him for her care and companionship. Dr. Nazeer answered her call without hesitation and gave up chasing his American dream at a juncture when he was winning honors and awards on many fronts. With her consent, he moved to United Arab Emirates where his several siblings worked so that his family could reunite there.
Dr. Nazeer worked for the Federal Ministry of Health, United Arab Emirates, from June 1995 to December 2003 as Senior Public Health Specialist with the Policy and Projects Department. He was involved in several projects and policy initiatives and had the opportunity to collaborate with the World Bank, WHO and other agencies as one of the Ministry of Health’s team members.
He wrote an outstanding dissertation, by utilizing his weekends and vacations while working full-time, which was lauded by his academic and thesis advisors and the dissertation committee. His dissertation focused on developing algebraic methods for evaluating validity and reliability of diagnostic and screening tests from their agreement data in the absence of a gold standard. He applied those methods to cervical cancer screening data for comparing them with the conventional methods. Dr. Nazeer holds women and children’s rights and their health-care priorities in his highest regards. He accordingly named his dissertation as R and Z Conceptual and Analytical Framework as a tribute to his wife’s dedication and sacrifices and his autistic son’s angelic innocence by putting the initials of their names in his dissertation’s title. He truly believes that behind every successful man there is a woman and considers his wife, who is also a physician, as his best friend ever. He also commends the great sacrifices of his mother for supporting him in getting the best education and laying a strong foundation of his career.
Dr. Nazeer resigned from his position in Ministry of Health UAE in 2003 to take on a new assignment as Senior Epidemiology Specialist in the Preventive Medicine Services Division of Saudi Aramco Medical Services Organization. He is still working in the same organization.
In short, Dr. Nazeer graduated as a physician and practiced clinical medicine for five years. He then decided to become a public health professional and obtained his higher education from Johns Hopkins University. His first two years of education in Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health were funded by the World Bank Fellowship. He believes that the prayers and untiring support of his mother and his wife, the World Bank’s Fellowship, and studying at Johns Hopkins University transformed his life from a physician to an earnest public health professional who strives to serve the humanity at large on a population level rather than in a clinical setting. To contact him or learn more about his work, click to access his Linkedin profile.