Saturday, April 11, 2009

The future has a way of arriving unannounced

Dr Hamid Rabb, 47 in Montreal, Canada


THE MILITARY backed interim government arrested Sheikh Hasina with ulterior motive to draw portrait of Pakistan to force her to into political exile. On June 11, 2008, Sheikh Hasina was released on parole for medical reasons and the next day she flew to the United States to be treated for hearing impairment, eye problems and high blood pressure. She was referred by her specialists to see another specialist at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland; she didn’t know that a great surprise was waiting for her. The specialist came to receive her from the patient waiting room and invited her to come to his chamber pronouncing words in Bengali. She was really surprised having such personality there. She was very happy and proud to see a Bangladeshi doctor in that high position at Johns Hopkins University. In appreciation of Dr.Rabb, she cooked Bangladeshi foods with her own hands, and served Dr.Rabb and his family by herself before she ate her own dinner at her son’s house in Virginia.

Born in Dhaka in 1962, Dr. Hamid Rabb came to Canada in 1965 at the age of three. Soon after his arrival here once he came out of his pre-kindergarten school, looked at the tall and round medical building of McGill University and said, “One day I shall be a doctor from that building”. At 17, he entered McGill Medical School with a large and prestigious scholarship. He finished his Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree from McGill University with distinction in 1985.

Dr. Rabb did his postgraduate studies at two top medical schools of the United States; he became a double MRCP from the UCLA Medical Center, USA and Canada where he was placed first among all Canadian candidates, and a kidney specialist at Harvard University in Boston. He worked as a professor for eight years in the University of Southern Florida and University of Minnesota. In 2001, he joined the position of a Director of the Kidney Transplant Department of Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. Johns Hopkins Medical School and its hospital has been rated number one in the United States for the last eighteen years in a row.

Dr. Rabb’s outstanding achievements as a medical scientist and a physician have made all Bangladeshis proud. In 1991, he developed a research project for the Pulmonary Institute of McGill University which became so significant that it now employs some Ph. D’s to assist the director and offers Ph. D. degrees to graduate students. He has been on US television including CNN, and newspapers many times for breakthroughs in Kidney transplants that his department has made. To date he has about 360 publications that appeared in some of the best medical journals. Some of his works are used as texts in medical schools all over the world. In 2006, he received two prestigious awards: one for being the best Kidney Transplant Doctor among several thousands specialists of North America and Europe combined, and another for having made the largest number of discoveries in the field of medicine before the age of 45.Among many of his discoveries is a blood test for kidneys. Previously there was no way of determining when a kidney failure would occur. The test that he developed can now detect kidney failure ahead of time. This test is benefiting people all over the world and saving many lives. Johns Hopkins University uses a description of his discoveries as a means of raising funds for that institution (Hamid Rabb, Nephrology, (Co-PI: Joseph Eustace, Nephrology, co-investigators: Paul Scheel, Nephrology and Roy Brower, Pulmonary) received a grant from NIDDK/VA entitled "Acute Renal Failure Trail Network". $866,720 Total amount, $230,780 for Year One) and Dr. Rabb won many millions of dollars by competition for his research. He employs a number of Ph. D’s, some of whom are Bangladeshis, to assist him in his research. As a member of the United States National Council of Research, he also distributes millions of dollars to American universities for research. He does the same for many European countries such as Holland and Germany.

Dr. Rabb is an exceptional physician. Many patients with very complicated diseases are sent to him from all over the US for diagnosis and treatment. He is also frequently invited to go to the Middle – East to see patients of Royal families. Sometimes he goes to Europe to see high profile patients of that continent (Faculty of 1000 medicines reports the following on Dr. Rabb: His team has been involved in translational research to elucidate the molecular pathogenesis of kidney IRI in order to develop novel diagnostics and therapies. Specifically, they are investigating the role of cellular immunity in kidney IRI, a new area of investigation that fuses immunology, molecular biology and physiology. They have recently found that the T cell, within hours, is an important mediator of distant inflammation during the innate immune response to ischemia. Identification of immediate allo -antigen independent effects of T cells is a new field of investigation with considerable clinical relevance. His lab is using transgenic mouse models of kidney IRI to understand how T cells mediate the injury response at the cellular and molecular level. In addition, with the development of new technologies such as genomic and proteomic evaluation of cells, they are incorporating these tools, as well as expanding their research on T cells in kidney IRI to include cross talk between failing organs. They validate their lab findings in ongoing clinical models, and modify lab study design according to those clinical findings. (

The people of Japan, China, India and many other Asian countries have come to the area of Johns Hopkins University in Maryland for the last 100 years; but no Asian has ever reached the height that Dr. Rabb has reached.

More than once the Federation of Bangladeshi Association of North America (FOBANA) gave him the award of the Best Bangladeshi Physician and Medical Scientist of North America.

Dr. Rabb visits Bangladesh once every two to three years. During his visits to the country of his birth, he delivers many lectures at various medical institutions, and teaches the doctors of those institutions new methods of treating Kidney diseases. He also sees hundreds of patients, especially the poor who cannot afford to see a specialist. Hopefully one day he will build a kidney hospital for the people of the country of his birth, Bangladesh.

Dr. Rabb married one of the grand daughters of the pioneer scientist and educationist of Bangladesh, Dr. Kudrat – e - Khuda. Asked for the recipe with which he and his wife raised Dr. Rabb, his father Dr. Abdur Rabb (who taught at Bangladesh and Canada and achieved Ph. D. from McGill University and run charitable organizations in Bangladesh and Canada), his only sister Ms. Shirin Rabb and his brother – in – law Mr. Ali Hossain Khan (both have born in Bangladesh and afforded higher education from Canadian universities and run several businesses and donate for the cause to the disadvantaged people living in Bangladesh) said, “It is his mother’s love, care, guidance and sacrifices for him that helped him grow up as an intellectual leader and a good human being.”

As we are Bangladeshis by birth, we are like other Bangladeshis, especially Hon’ble Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina who was treated by Dr. Rabb and Hon’ble Foreign Minister, Dr. Dipu Moni (who studied Master of Public Health/MPH at Johns Hopkins University) proud of his achievements and dedications to the service of humankind who loves and cares for human beings equally without any distinction based on color of the skin, religious belief or ethnic background. A good education not only refines the intellect, it also purifies the heart. The revolution has always been in the hands of the young. The young always inherit the revolution. The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. It is not the strongest of the species that survives, or the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. The future for Dr. Rabb and other Bangladeshis have a way of arriving unannounced like Dr. Yunus, the Noble Prize winner in Peace who has born to unite with our fellow men, and to join in community with the human race. #

FOOTNOTE: The Bangladeshi community of Montreal has organized a large citizens’ reception to honour Professor Dr. Hamid Rabb, an outstanding medical scientist and physician of Bangladeshi origin, on Saturday April 11, 2009. Some people who know him well say that he may win a Nobel Prize for his discoveries in the future

Avik Sengupta is a freelance writer based in Canada and a student of Biochemistry at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He could be reached at: