Confronting the Inevitable: Dr. Azra Raza Explores the Human Experience at Habib University’s 8th Yohsin Lecture

Confronting the Inevitable: Dr. Azra Raza Explores the Human Experience at Habib University’s 8th Yohsin Lecture

Karachi: Habib University hosted the successful culmination of its 8th Yohsin Lecture, a prestigious event featuring Dr. Azra Raza, a distinguished global leader in the fight against cancer. The lecture, titled ‘Confronting with Passion the Conundrum of Life,’ took place on Friday, 1st December 2023, at the Habib University Campus in Karachi.

The Yohsin Lecture, a significant component of the Presidential Lecture Series sponsored by the Office of the President, serves as a platform to engage civil society, the University’s faculty, and students with the most distinguished scholars, thinkers, and critics of our time and facilitates insightful discussions on a diverse range of topics.

President Habib University, Wasif A. Rizvi, welcomed the audience and elaborated on the concept of the program, “The Yohsin Lecture Series serve as a manifestation of the concept of “Yohsin,” derived from the motto of Habib University, inspired by Imam Ali’s words: “The worth of every human is in their Yohsin.” In this context, Yohsin encompasses qualities like grace (husn), generosity (ehsaan), and excellence (ahsan). The primary purpose of the Yohsin Lecture Series is to foster intellectual discourse that aligns with these virtues. Past speakers, distinguished profiles like Noam Chomsky, Reza Aslan, Vali Nasr, amongst others exemplify and embody these qualities.”

Dr. Azra Raza, the 8th Yohsin Speaker, is also the Chan Soon-Shiong Professor of Medicine and Clinical Director at Columbia University’s Edward P. Evans Foundation MDS Center. Dr. Raza brought her wealth of experience as a renowned oncologist and dedicated researcher to the forefront. Actively treating 30-40 cancer patients weekly, Dr. Raza directs a cancer research lab and has made significant contributions to the field, publishing novel findings in esteemed medical journals.

Her groundbreaking ideas, as outlined in the bestselling book “The First Cell: And the human costs of pursuing cancer to the last,” advocate for a paradigm shift in cancer treatment from eradicating every cancer cell to early prevention.

During her lecture, Dr. Raza delved into earnest questions arising in the face of unsolvable medical challenges, with a specific focus on the human costs of diseases like cancer. Through a captivating blend of poetry and science, weaving the works of Ghalib along with medical profundities, she offered a unique perspective on the remarkable resilience of the human spirit when confronted with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

“There is a difference between curing and healing. If somebody needs a cure, you give them an antibiotic but healing is about healing the entire body, not just an organ,” Dr Azra Raza elaborated on what is missing from the current approach towards treating cancer. The talk explored the current cancer landscape, posing uncomfortable questions about the ongoing War on Cancer, advocating for change, and highlighting ways in which individuals can contribute to shifting the paradigm.

Dr Raza outlined how the conventional focus of cancer research has always been on late-stage disease, when tumors are large, and patients are severely ill. She argued that billions spent on targeting specific mutated genes or signaling pathways are misguided, as tumors are complex masses with varying genetic and cellular abnormalities. She passionately advocated for a shift towards early detection to improve treatment effectiveness, emphasizing the drawbacks of studying tumors as static entities in unrealistic environments. She strongly opposed the conventional “slash-poison-burn” approach and advocated for a more cost-effective, less toxic, and efficient strategy for the future.

The lecture event was open to the public proved to be enlightening and thought-provoking, providing attendees with valuable insights into the complexities of confronting life’s conundrums.

About Habib University:
Habib University is a premier institution of higher education in Pakistan, dedicated to cultivating critical thinking, interdisciplinary learning, and academic excellence. Established in 2010 and chartered as an independent university in 2012, Habib University is supported by the House of Habib. Located in Karachi on a 6.3-acre campus in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, the private liberal arts university offers undergraduate degrees in science, engineering, arts, humanities, and social sciences.


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