TWO UH GRADS A STEP CLOSER TO REALIZING
‘THE AMERICAN DREAM’
Azim Karim and Hassan Khalil Receive National Honors,
Vaulting them Toward Medical School
HOUSTON, May 30, 2006 – After leaving their native countries
with their parents, two recent University of Houston graduates have
been pursuing the American dream.
As recipients of a pair of prestigious national fellowships, two
graduating seniors – Azim Karim, a biology major and history
minor, and Hassan A. Khalil, a biomedical engineering major and
mathematics minor – are getting closer to making that dream
a reality. Karim received a Merage Foundation for the American Dream
Fellowship, and Khalil received an Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi
Fellowship and Award of Excellence.
“We are tremendously pleased that these students have received
such national recognition for their outstanding work and creativity.
I am delighted for them and for their families,” said Donald
J. Foss, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.
“The University of Houston has many opportunities for undergraduates
to obtain hands-on, individualized learning experiences. The success
of these students is a testimony to them, primarily, but also to
the faculty members who worked with them.”
Karim’s goal is to become a medical doctor, specializing
in cardiovascular sciences, as well as perform clinical investigations
into treatments for cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. His
two-year, $20,000 Merage fellowship will bring him a step closer.
While attending UH, his research experience included roles as research
assistant with Baylor College of Medicine, Methodist Hospital’s
DeBakey Heart Center and The University of Texas Health Science
“Azim is an outstanding student, and he has given much of
himself to the community,” said John Bear, dean of the UH
College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “He is very deserving
of this award, and we are proud that he is one of our students.”
A native of Pakistan, Karim moved to Houston with his family when
he was an infant. During his freshman year at UH, he volunteered
for a medical relief mission in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. He says
that experience taught him many things about practicing medicine
that cannot be found in textbooks.
“The task of providing medical relief to the villages is what
I now believe to be the true essence of medical care – a community
of physicians working alongside a volunteer staff to combat disease
and partner with families to provide service to patients,”
This is the second consecutive year that a UH student has received
the Merage fellowship, which is given to just 14 promising immigrants
across the United States each year. In 2005, Mohamad Halawi, a native
of Lebanon, was awarded the fellowship along with numerous other
Karim’s fellow graduating senior, Khalil also looks forward
to excelling in the medical profession. His $5,000 Phi Kappa Phi
fellowship will fund his first year at The University of Texas Medical
School at Houston. He was among 100 students nationwide to receive
the fellowship and award.
“Receiving this fellowship is an honor for me personally,
but it is also great to represent UH and the biomedical engineering
program in this way,” Khalil said.
Khalil, who came to the Untied States from Iraq with his family
at the age of 16, is an award-winning researcher. His research on
the human vascular system allows for new experimentation in artificial
organ control that aims to maintain important physiological parameters
and makes experiments more flexible, easier, more predictable and
less expensive. In 2005, his model of the circulatory system earned
him a professional engineer’s fellowship from the American
Society of Artificial Internal Organs. Khalil collaborated with
doctors at the Texas Heart Institute on this project.
In addition to his work with the Texas Heart Institute, he has interned
at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and Rice University’s
National Space Biomedical Research Institute, as well as volunteered
at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital. Khalil plans to earn his
M.D. with the goal of becoming a cardiac surgeon, medical researcher
“Hassan has been an outstanding student in our biomedical
engineering program and, as the first person to receive an undergraduate
degree from the program, is an excellent model for other students
to follow,” said Ray Flumerfelt, dean of the UH Cullen College
of Engineering. “What he has accomplished with his research
into artificial hearts and circulation is of significant value and
shows his strong potential for the future.”
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research
and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers
and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate,
civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university
in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and
service with more than 35,000 students.
About the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
The UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, with nearly
400 faculty members and approximately 4,000 students, offers bachelors,
masters and doctoral degrees in the natural sciences, computational
sciences and mathematics. Faculty members in the departments of
biology and biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, geosciences,
mathematics and physics have internationally recognized collaborative
research programs in association with UH interdisciplinary research
centers, Texas Medical Center institutions and national laboratories.
About the Cullen College of Engineering
UH Cullen College of Engineering has produced five U.S. astronauts,
ten members of the National Academy of Engineering, and degree programs
that have ranked in the top ten nationally. With more than 2,600
students, the college offers accredited undergraduate and graduate
degrees in biomedical, chemical, civil and environmental, electrical
and computer, industrial, and mechanical engineering. It also offers
specialized programs in aerospace, materials, petroleum engineering
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