In 2009, 9 people from Urooba Ahmed’s close family died because of leukemia. This devastating loss inspired Urooba to take a closer look into the treatments and diagnostic methods of leukemia used in Pakistan. Upon closer look,
Urooba noticed that Pakistan owns quite a few advancements in the treatment of cancer that are very expensive and thus unaffordable to the average person. It was that day, when her desire to make contribution towards the field of cancer rose inside. As Urooba wasn’t a pure science student, when she discussed her idea of utilizing the natural herbs for the treatment of cancer with one of the science teachers at school, the teacher laughed and advised her to focus on only her majors which are Social sciences. She believes science is a passion, it’s not bound to a particular fields or groups of students, it is a sense of freedom in thoughts and imagination. So the teacher’s “advice” didn’t work on her, call it stubborn or determined but deep inside she had decided that she will work towards this. The journey began when Urooba filled out the registration form for Intel Provincial Science Fair 2014 and submitted her abstract alongside. After her project abstract got selected to display and compete at Intel Provincial Science Fair 2014, her patience and work ethic was put to the test. In the duration of only 7 days, she travelled to Abbottabad for plant collection and she conducted interviews with the local herbalists. The very next day was the trip to PCSIR Lahore for plant grinding and encapsulation. The rest of the days were spent working on the research paper, display board and catching up on academics. During this time, she had only slept for ten hours in that entire 7 days! Urooba’s hard work was rewarded tremendously, she won the Grand Award in Biology along with the Best of Category Award in Biology. She moved on with the research project and worked at the Medicinal Plant Lab at the National University of Science and Technology for a month. It was the craziest and best time of her life. Urooba would attend two classes at school, then rush for the laboratory at 9:00am, work until 5:00pm in the evening and then she would get home at 7:00pm and in her spare time she did her CIE mock exams. When she finished her work at NUST, she travelled all the way to Karachi to hand over the plant extracts to Dr. Panjwani at the Center of Molecular Medicine and Drug Research for cell line experiments. In the midst of all this hustle and bustle, she got an offer from Alexandria University where Dr. Doaa Ghareeb invited Urooba to her laboratory for leukemia cell line experiments (since it was not being done in Pakistan). The National Science Fair took place the last week of January 2014 where she got a special award from “Society of In Vitro Biology”, but failed to qualify for the International Science and Engineering Fair. Though she was very disappointed, she believed that her actual success will be when her drug will be able to cure one mother, one father, one child and will restore happiness and health in someone else’s life.
Later Urooba was accepted to the Boston Leadership Institute for a summer course as one of the lucky 29 students out of a million applicants from across the world. She was also invited to be a speaker at TEDxSialkot to talk about her research journey. Recently Urooba’s project was selected as a finalist for Mostratec Brazilian Science and Engineering Fair 2014. She is currently getting in touch with Cancer Research UK as a media volunteer and she has been invited to be an intern at the Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign. Urooba says that, “Being in research has been the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced. Getting in touch with people, working at laboratories and anxiously waiting for the results has brought in patience, compassion and has elevated my faith in Destiny.” Urooba is very grateful to all those people who have been a part of her delightful journey and she truly values the support of her parents, friends and teachers without whom her success is incomplete.
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