AKUAANA offices subject to election in this cycle for a two-year term include:
Given below is a brief profile of the nominations received so far (in no particular order) by the AKUAANA Nominations and Elections Committee for these offices.
Faisal H. Cheema
Class of 2000
An AKU graduate of Class of 2000, Dr. Cheema is a prolific physician-scientist who specializes in basic sciences, translational and clinical research.
Dr. Cheema holds a faculty appointment at Baylor College of Medicine where he is the Director of Research and Innovations, in the Division of Cardiothoracic Transplantation of Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery. Under his leadership, the Division of Cardiothoracic Transplantation and Circulatory Support has built a strong program in research. In addition, Dr. Cheema is also the Director Research of a consortium of 18 hospitals in Texas, as part of Gulf Coast Division of HCA which is the world’s largest hospital network. Besides, Dr. Cheema also provides leadership to Aegis Cardiovascular Research Foundation.
Dr. Cheema’s research has focused on all aspects of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery with a special interest in surgical management of end-stage heart failure, in particular, heart transplantation and mechanical circulatory support devices. He has been involved in a wide range of clinical trials. Additional areas of interest include stem cell research, biomedical engineering, ex-vivo organ perfusion and resuscitation, and device innovation and in-vivo testing.
Before joining Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Cheema was the Director of Clinical Research and Innovations & an Assistant Professor of Cardiac Surgery at University of Maryland where he oversaw recruitment in ~3 dozen clinical trials.
Dr. Cheema earned his M.B.;B.S. from The Aga Khan University followed by a clinical research fellowship in heart transplantation from the Robert Van Kampen Heart Transplant Resource Center at Loyola University. Later, he moved to Columbia University for additional post-doctoral research fellowships and stayed on as research faculty (Associate Research Scientist) as well as the Director of Cardiopulmonary Tissue Repository. Dr. Cheema was elected as University Senator from 2009-11 and served on several important senate committees during his tenure representing the entire body of researchers of Columbia University.
Dr. Cheema has co-authored over 115 scientific manuscripts and ~300 abstracts. He has presented his research at conferences worldwide. Additionally, he has written several book chapters and secured numerous grants both from private and federal agencies surpassing $6 Million in cumulative funding. His research papers have appeared in high impact journals such as The Lancet, PNAS, JCI, Circulation, BMJ, World Journal of Surgery, JTCVS, The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, EJCTS, JHLT, Circulation Heart Failure, and Circulation Research. He serves as a reviewer on several scholarly journals. A proven clinical researcher and academician with ~4750 citations to his published scientific work and an impressive h-index of 31, Dr. Cheema is also a member of numerous professional organizations and is very active in academic, philanthropic and community organizations.
Dr. Cheema has served the Aga Khan University Alumni Association of North America (AKUAANA) as its Secretary in the past and is currently discharging his duties as the Treasurer for the term 2018-19.
He loves to mentor students and young physicians.
Class of 2003
I was born in Thana Bula Khan, Sindh. We moved to Tando Mohd Khan and then to Hyderabad for higher education. I went to the University of Minnesota for IM residency (2004-2007) and did a Nephrology fellowship (2007-2009) from University of Louisville, Kentucky (2009).
After partnering with another AKU graduate, I started a solo Nephrology practice in Victoria TX that provides services in Victoria and surrounding counties.
I can read, write and speak English, Urdu and Sindhi. And like to read literature and poetry in all 3 languages. I started playing tennis 9 years ago and wish I had started it earlier.
I would like to see more involvement of AKU alumni in Pakistani communities either through electronic media or during their visits in Pakistan. I can partly facilitate that.
Class of 2013
Ammar A. Javed, MD is the lead postdoctoral research fellow, database manager and program coordinator for clinical, translational and molecular research for the Division of Surgical Oncology (Pancreatic Surgery), Department of Surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. As an avid researcher, he is involved in both clinical and translational research in the field of pancreatic surgery and pancreatic cancer biology.
His research revolves around improving our understanding of the biology of pancreatic cancer aimed at improving both diagnostic techniques and therapeutics currently being used to treat this lethal disease. Under the mentorship of Dr. Christopher Wolfgang, Dr. Jin He, and Dr. Richard Burkhart, Dr. Javed and his colleagues are currently developing novel techniques to isolate and characterize circulating tumor cells in the peripheral blood of patients, as well as techniques to establish tumor-derived organoid. Their goal is to identify subtypes of pancreatic cancer and correlate these findings to the clinicopathological features such as treatment response and long-term outcomes of these patients. Furthermore, with the use of drug-sensitivity testing on tumor-derived organoids they aim to pave a path for precision medicine approaches to patient care in the near future.
On the clinical side, his research focuses on the identification of factors associated with long term outcomes of patients undergoing resection of malignant diseases as well as those associated with increased risk of postoperative complications and higher healthcare costs in patients undergoing pancreatic surgery for all indications. In addition to numerous retrospective studies, he has been responsible for multiple randomized control trials evaluating interventions that can help alleviate the burden of postoperative morbidity and decrease the associated healthcare costs.
Dr. Javed received his medical degree from the Aga Khan University, one of Asia’s leading medical schools. During his time at the Aga Khan University, he was instrumental in several research studies and trained as a visiting research scholar at Massachusetts General Hospital, University of Pennsylvania, Children’s Hospital Boston, and The Johns Hopkins school of Medicine to gain expertise in clinical and translational research. After graduating from his medical school he joined his current team at Johns Hopkins. As a hardworking, driven, and passionate individual Dr. Javed aims to pursue a career as a surgeon scientist with a focus on pancreatic diseases and pancreatic surgery.
Dr. Javed associates a majority of his early success to the training he received at AKUMC. In particular, he feels that the mentorship he received from AKUMC graduates in the North Americas in particular Dean Adil Haider, helped him formulate a career plan and execute it. Determined to give back to his home institution, he has been an active member of AKUAANA since he moved to the North Americas having devoted time and effort towards multiple activities related to the association; most recently having served on the selection committee for JRM Scholarship Fund.
He is invested in training students, currently enrolled at AKUMC, who are interested in pursuing a career in academic medicine. As a postdoctoral research fellow, he has mentored over a dozen students, half of whom have visited him to participate in research electives at Johns Hopkins. Being a recent graduate, who has mentored current students, puts him in a unique position where he has a good understanding of the requirements and pathway to becoming a clinician-scientist as well as the problems being faced by students in obtaining and supporting their research endeavors.
If elected to the Executive Council, Dr. Javed would like to focus his efforts towards achieving five goals.
- Increasing alumni engagement by arranging numerous small- and large-scale AKUAANA events, which will integrate faculty from AKUMC as well as non-alum Pakistanis in the North Americas, aimed at strengthening AKUAANA’s relationship with the home institution as well as identifying potential donors to support the association’s activities.
- Increasing awareness of parallel career pathways amongst students at AKUMC, including those in academic medicine, industry, health policy, biomedical engineering, hospital administration, etc.
- Arranging financial opportunities to support activities of students visiting the North Americas.
- Moving to the North Americas can be a daunting task for fresh graduates. Therefore, he would like to set up a training course that smoothens this transition with a focus on early financial stability.
- Lastly, he is the first one to admit that in his early years one of the biggest challenges he faced was maintaining a healthy work-life balance. He would like to take initiatives to help alumni in North Americas achieve a better work-life balance and avoid burn out, especially in their early careers.