Dubai, UAE–On 19th of April 2011, the Pan Arab League of Dermatologists honoured Dr. Abdul Razzaque Ahmed of Boston, Massachusetts with a â€œLifetime Achievement Awardâ€. The Award was given at a joint meeting of the Pan Arab League of Dermatologists and Dubai Derm 2011 held at the International Convention Center in Dubai. The patron of the Meeting was HRH Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who presided over the session. In announcing the Award, Dr. Omar Al Sheikh of Riyadh, KSA, Secretary General, stated;
â€œIn recognition of his 35 years of dedication and commitment to treating patients with severe autoimmune blistering diseases and for the discovery of new and novel therapies to treatment them. In addition, in recognition of his numerous landmark and milestone contributions enhancing the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of their pathogenesis, the Pan Arab League of Dermatologists present this Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Abdul Razzaque Ahmed.â€
The Pan Arab League of Dermatologists has been in existence since 1979. It consists of 23 Arab countries which have a cumulative population of over 8700 dermatologist that constitute the League. It meets every three years in a different Arab country. This is the first time in is 33 years of existence that it has bestowed such an Award.
The objectives of the League are:
â€¢ To hold conferences and educate its members with knowledge of the latest advances and discoveries in the science and practice of medical and surgical dermatology. â€¢ To promote the specialty, scientifically and professionally the League provides an avenue to advance collaboration between individual members and member countries. â€¢ To foster the development of infrastructure in the academic institutions within member countries by aiding in the formulation of curricula, faculty recruitment and exchange, and sharing resources to create a learning environment that is challenging for young physicians to become competent dermatologists. â€¢ To strongly support the translation of manuscripts, books, and other written educational resources into Arabic to advance scientific research and the utilization of information technology. â€¢ To ultimately be the voice of dermatology in the Arab world by uniting Arab dermatologists under one umbrella.
Dr. Ahmed is originally from a small town called Wani in the District Yavatmal in Maharashtra in Central India. He studied medicine at the internationally-renowned All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. Shortly thereafter he went to the United States where he trained in Internal Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, in Dermatology at the University of Buffalo, and in Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the University of California at Los Angeles. Dr. Ahmed was on the Faculty of Medicine at UCLA for six years before moving to Harvard University in Boston. He began molecular research and earned a Doctorate of Science degree from the Harvard University Faculty of Medicine, and a Masterâ€™s degree in Public Administration (MPA) from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Thereafter, Dr. Ahmed continued his laboratory research for 20 years on the campus of the Harvard Medical School with funding provided by the National Institute of Health. He also opened the first â€œCenter for Blistering Diseasesâ€ in the U.S. The Center provides an all-inclusive, holistic approach to treating every aspect of a patientâ€™s life. Dr. Ahmed established a model for the treatment of these autoimmune, potentially fatal diseases. This model has been emulated in other cities with significant success.
Dr. Ahmed is one among a handful of blistering disease specialists in the world. He has published original scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, chapters in various books, and edited five monographs. He has lectured in the U.S. and worldwide throughout Asia, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East. Blistering diseases patients come to him from all over the U.S. and several countries overseas. He is unique because he is an excellent clinician, an imaginative and creative scientist, and an effective teacher with an infectious enthusiasm and the ability to make young physicians become interested and excited in what they study and learn. He has received several prestigious awards in the U.S. and many other countries. It is important to note that he also received two Citations for his research and its global impact; one from The Commonwealth of Massachusetts House of Representatives, and the other from the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Argeo Paul Cellucci.
Dr. Ahmed treats patients with autoimmune, potentially fatal blistering diseases that affect the skin, mouth, throat, nose, eyes, voice box, swallowing tub, genitalia, and rectum. The blisters break easily, leaving raw and open sores that are open to infection. These sores stick to the clothes and bedsheets. Patients are sick, toxic, and have difficulty coping with their daily lives, often afraid to be seen by society in general. These diseases are rare. For example, pemphigus occurs in one patient in a 250,000 population; cicatricial pemphigoid with a potential for causing blindness occurs in one in 1 million population, and epidermolysis bullosa acquisita occurs in one in 3 million people. Most physicians do not know how to handle these patients and refer them to Dr. Ahmed for medical management. His patients see him as a savior and â€œGod sentâ€. His treatments have saved numerous lives and prevented blindness in numerous others.
When receiving the Pan Arab Lifetime Achievement Award, Dr. Ahmed thanked the patients who gave him their trust and the opportunity to make the discoveries he has made over the years. He thanked his teachers, mentors, colleagues, and many students, for their dedication and assistance. He focused on his research towards the discovery of the genes that predispose individuals to these diseases and their value and importance to all future research in this field. He spoke about his discovery of two molecules involved in the process that allows these diseases to happen (target antigens). He ended by discussing the discovery of two treatments (intravenous immunoglobulin and Rituximab) that can save patient lives and give them not only hope but offer the patients an opportunity to live normal lives.
While many investigators are chasing â€œcuresâ€ for common diseases like cancer, heart attacks, and stroke, or wanting to find ways to lose weight, grow hair, and eliminate wrinkles, Dr. Ahmed has silent but perseveringly and relentlessly worked on these â€œorphan diseasesâ€ so that those unfortunate patients on the sidelines of the medical world may have hope and a chance to survive. The Pan Arab League of Dermatologists has done the world, and especially the patients with pemphigus and pemphigoid, a great service by recognizing a physician truly worthy of such recognition.