Luck and hard work have been integral components of Qais Al-Awqati’s life in the United States; his passion for medicine has not gone unnoticed by his colleagues.
Mr. Al-Awqati was born in Baghdad, Iraq. He attended a high school that was established by Jesuits mostly from Boston and learned how to speak English there, albeit in an Irish-Boston accent. He later graduated from the University of Baghdad College of Medicine. After completing his military service requirement, he began his residency at the Republican Hospital of Baghdad. Wanting to continue his medical training, Qais looked to the United States for opportunities.
In 1967, Mr. Al-Awqati came to the United States after finding a position at Baltimore City Hospital, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University. During his three years in Baltimore, he became a resident in medicine and then a postdoctoral fellow in Infectious Diseases. He began doing research and was part of a landmark cholera study, identifying how the how the cholera bacterium causes diarrhea. After leaving Baltimore, Mr. Al-Awqati became a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital. Four years later, his began his first professorial position at the University of Iowa College of Medicine where he remained until he moved to Columbia University.
Mr. Al-Awqati has been a faculty member of the Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons for more than 35 years. His special interests are in the fields of kidney development and epithelial cell biology. Mr. Al-Awqati has received several awards and distinctions, including the Homer W. Smith Award from the American Nephrology Society and the Princess Lilian of Belgium Award. He lives in New York City.