Since 1950, the University Lecture has offered members of the BU community and the general public an opportunity to hear from distinguished faculty about the outstanding and often groundbreaking research and scholarship in which they are actively engaged.

University Lecturers represent a vast array of disciplines and research topics, yet share a common commitment to excellence in scholarly inquiry and discovery. The annual lecture provides an opportunity to highlight the work of a distinguished scholar and engages both the University community and the broader public in the vibrant intellectual life of Boston University.

The nominating period for the 2020 University Lecture is now open.

To nominate a BU faculty member for this honor, please complete this form. Nominations should be submitted via e-mail to or by mail to the Office of the Provost, One Silber Way, 8th floor. The deadline for submissions is Friday, May 8, 2020.

2019 University Lecture

The Quest for Ethical Solutions for the Global Refugee Crisis

Presented by Muhammad H. Zaman, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor of Biomedical Engineering and International Health

Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at 7 pm
Tsai Performance Center
685 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts
Admission is free. The public is cordially invited.
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Muhammad Zaman is Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor of Biomedical Engineering and International Health in the Boston University College of Engineering. Professor Zaman’s current research focuses on two distinct areas: (1) Developing a fundamental understanding of tumor invasion and metastasis by building realistic model systems in the lab to study cancer progression; and (2) developing robust technologies and systems-level solutions to improve the quality of medicines, particularly as they relate to anti-microbial resistance and mortality and morbidity issues in low income settings, including refugee settlements.

Technologies developed by Professor Zaman and his lab are in various stages of implementation in a number of developing countries. Scientific American has named innovations from the Zaman lab among the top 10 technologies that will change the world. Professor Zaman is also part of Prime Minister of Pakistan’s national task force to reform the national health sector.

In addition to his research, Professor Zaman is actively engaged in improving access to quality engineering education in a number of countries in Africa, Middle East and Asia. With the support of the UN Economic Commission in Africa, he has helped set up biomedical engineering departments at universities in Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, Ghana and Ethiopia, with a focus on addressing local challenges through innovation and technical capacity building. In 2017, he co-founded Pakistan’s first citizen science festival, the Lahore Science Mela, which attracts over 20,000 people every year.

Professor Zaman is a prolific writer, having authored over 120 peer-reviewed research articles and hundreds of columns on refugee health, drug quality, and global health for major newspapers around the world, including the New York Times. He has also authored two books for broad general and academic audiences. His first book, Bitter Pills (Oxford University Press, 2018), examines the global challenge of substandard and counterfeit drugs and the need for integrated solutions, from innovation and technology to public health and regulation, to address their prevalence and relation to global anti-microbial resistance challenges. His forthcoming book, Biography of Resistance (Harper Collins, 2020), looks to history, culture, attitudes, our own individual choices, and collective human behavior in creating the biggest public health challenge of our time.

Professor Zaman received his doctorate and master’s degree in chemistry from University of Chicago and his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and physics from Arkansas Tech University. He completed his postdoctoral work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Watch the lecture:

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