First saw a library at the university

Playing in the mud during the day and studying at night with a kerosene lamp, was Raquibul's daily routine in his childhood. No one in the neighborhood was that interested in studies. Just as playing fields were abundant, so were playmates to be easily found. Raquibul completed his childhood education from Raypur Primary School.

He faced a bit of trouble while at the secondary level. He used to find higher math difficult. But there was no teacher to whom he could go to study. Just about six months prior to the examination, he found out about a teacher living at a distance. It used to take him about 4-5 hours just to travel there.

Raquibul said, “Abdul Latif sir’s house was 10 miles away from our home. I used to take the bus to travel the first eight miles then I had to walk the last couple of miles. Studying like this for three months before the exam, my fear of higher math finally went away.”  

In 1999, he passed the secondary exam with star and letter marks in six subjects from Raipur High School. Then he got himself admitted at Kushtia Government College in the science group.

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He didn’t need to go to a private tutor any more, while studying in college. He just learnt all the things his teachers taught at class, intently. He finished his higher secondary education in 2001.

He had fallen in love with Jahangirnagar University campus, right at the first sight. In the admission test, he got selected to study at the pharmacy department there. The place that caught his attention right away at the beginning of his university life was the campus library.

Raquibul said, “There was no library in our village, for it was far away from the town. Till then, I had read about libraries only in books. I got to see a library for the first time in my life when I stepped into university.”

“My father Md Abdul Hannan Shah was the headmaster of Raipur High School. He used to bring home books whenever he visited the town. That was the only scope of reading anything outside of the textbooks. I was the first from our village to get admission in a university.”

From the pharmacy department of Jahangirnagar University, Raquibul finished his Bachelors (honours) where is stood first class second, while in master’s he aced being the first class first.

‘Just test me once’

Talking on Messenger, Raquibul began speaking about his dream with a quote from professor Abdullah Abu Sayeed, “Sir always says, a human being is as big as his dream. This quote put me under a spell.”

After completing his studies from Jahangirnagar University, Raquibul thought of getting a job and started his career as a sales executive at Health Care Pharmaceuticals.

However, he was extremely invested in understanding human physiology and the disease process. To be involved with education and research he first joined Stamford University of Bangladesh and later BRAC University as a lecturer, after working at Health Care Pharmaceuticals for 9 months.

Raquibul was saying, “I set up a lab at BRAC University with the help of my colleagues and students. There we ran different pharmacological tests on rats. My interest in research started growing mainly during this time.”

“My research papers got published in international journals and then my interest in pursuing higher studies increased even more. I started applying for PhD admission in different universities around the globe. And, my applications got accepted in The University of Sydney, The University of Manchester and University of Nottingham with scholarships,” he added.

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But Raquibul was in search of a better opportunity. Finally, in 2010, he got an opportunity to get admission in the PhD programme in pharmacology at the University of Cambridge in UK, with a scholarship.

However, he had to overcome some obstacles for that as well, in the beginning. Since he didn’t have a foreign master’s degree, the Cambridge professor initially refused to accept Raquibul as a PhD student. Later, Raquibul emailed the professor with his work experience and articles, published in various journals saying, “Just test me once. If I don’t do well, drop me from the programme.”

When the batch of 14 students received their first semester examination results, it was found that Raquibul had done quite well there. His paper ranked among the best. And, he got the opportunity to pursue in the next course with a scholarship.

Raquibul said, “Following this instance, the teachers there have given a few more Bangladeshi students the opportunity to do PhD without a foreign master’s degree.”

Flight to the US, to his dreams

Since many people in Bangladesh die of cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke, Raquibul wished to work on this. After PhD, he joined the University of Tennessee in the US as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in 2015 for higher research. In 2016, American Heart Association gave him a research grant after verifying the merit of his proposed research.

As his father was a teacher, Raquibul was still looking for teaching opportunities. He got that chance once his post-doctoral fellowship ended. In 2018, he joined Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia as an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Raquibul set up his own lab there for doing cardiovascular research. He is supervising the research of Masters and PhD students. Alongside, he teaches Doctor of Pharmacy students too.

The number of Raquibul's research papers, published in various journals is 52. Plus, his papers have been cited in more than 1,500 research articles.

Raquibul said, “For all my success, I am indebted to my father. He has embedded the mantra of moving forward in life in my subconscious. And my mother Rahima Begum, a housewife, has also encouraged me always. In the end, I want to thank my wife Sneha and our son Areeb, who are the source of my inspiration!”

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