Cancer and Its Discontents: A Philosophical Journey by Azra Raza

27/02/20183:30 pm-4:30 pm
Tariq Rafi Lecture Theater, Habib University

Arzu Center Website


Cancer is going to strike half the men and a third of the women alive today. Despite a War on Cancer declared half a century ago, we are failing spectacularly to treat this disease. Where are we going wrong? The oncologist must remain the natural ambassador for the patient. Research fraternities form close-knit circles intent on producing dense work not easily applicable to real life situations. One should be in the pursuit of knowledge not to obtain grants or to publish but to be excited by the possibility of new discoveries. For that, you need patience because Nature does not reveal itself easily. And if you wish to make a meaningful discovery that helps society, you must stay with the same story for a lifetime. Reading literature helps even scientific projects because fiction demands interpretation and making judgments based on those interpretations. This ability to understand something through our own mental effort rather than accepting received wisdom affects all aspects of our lives. Individuals bearing a combination of intellect, urgency and the courage to look beyond their next grant need to constantly produce new paradigms which can replace the existing ones. The most powerful stimulant of the human spirit remains a challenge to engage with true reality, to try to see things as they really are, to seek the truth, to search for the essential mystery.


Azra Raza was born in Karachi, Pakistan. She is Professor of Medicine and Director of the MDS Center at Columbia University. She is a scientist as well as a practicing oncologist, and has published the results of her laboratory and clinical research in prestigious, peer reviewed journals (262 full-length papers, 15 book chapters, 535 abstracts, and editor of a book devoted to MDS). She serves on numerous National and International panels as a reviewer, consultant and advisor. Apart from her ground-breaking research in the field of oncology, her interest in Urdu literature led her to co-author the book ‘Ghalib: Epistemologies of Elegance’, with Sara Suleri Goodyear, which is a translation of selected Ghalib’s ghazals with commentaries.