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Grad Student’s Death Shocks Colleagues

A brilliant, engaged student is remembered, and mourned

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The accidental death of a popular School of Medicine graduate student has shocked and saddened colleagues in an exclusive MD/Ph.D. dual degree program in medicine and biomedical engineering.

Babur Khalique, a third-year medical student who had recently started his training in biomedical engineering, died early Saturday morning after falling from a third floor balcony of an off-campus Brighton apartment.

Khalique was visiting friends at 5 Walbridge Road when he fell to the street at about 1 a.m. He was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Investigators from the Boston Police Department have ruled the death accidental. The Boston Globe reported that witnesses told police investigators that Khalique had been drinking alcohol “through the day and evening before he died.”

Daniel Dworkis, a fourth-year medical student and a colleague in the MD/Ph.D. program, remembers Khalique as an extraordinarily well-read and complex person.

“Everyone in the dual degree program is smart,” says Dworkis, “but Babur was brilliant. He would quote Nietzsche off the cuff. He would grasp things intuitively that others would struggle with. He told me his goal this weekend was to learn three new programming languages and I had no doubt that he could do it.

“One of our last conversations was a long discussion of what it means to be human. He told me he would go the Museum of Fine Arts and be captured by the beauty of the old masterworks. He said he wanted to apply that beauty to his own life.”

Benjamin Wolozin, a MED professor of pharmacology, knew Khalique in several venues. He says he was first struck by Khalique’s positive attitude.

“He was always upbeat,” says Wolozin, “always cheery. And when he was in class he had this shining intellect. He was very interested in systems biology, and he had an ability to get his head around complicated sets of information.”

Wolozin says Khalique’s intellect and energy also served him well in his role as a student representative on MED’s medical education committee and on the MD/Ph.D. program executive committee.

Nancy Kopell, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of mathematics and statistics and an advisor of Khalique’s, says she was amazed at how quickly he learned the detailed biophysical modeling and dynamical systems analysis required for his work in network dynamics. “He was fun to work with,” says Kopell. “I always looked forward to our meetings.”

Khalique, whose hometown is Pittstown, N.J., earned an undergraduate degree at Drexel University. He was one of two student representatives on the preclerkship curriculum subcommittee of the MED medical education committee.

Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore says the Boston University community is deeply saddened by the tragedy.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Babur Khalique,” says Elmore. “His death is a great loss.”

Karen Antman, dean of MED and provost of the Medical Campus, says Khalique’s death is a tragic loss. Khalique was “a brilliant and engaged student,” she says, “and a cherished member of our community.”

Counseling is available on the Medical Campus, as well as on the Charles River Campus. Students on the Charles River Campus can seek counseling at the department of behavioral medicine at Student Health Services, 881 Commonwealth Ave., 617-353-3575.

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.

6 Comments

6 Comments on Grad Student’s Death Shocks Colleagues

  • Anonymous on 09.21.2009 at 12:23 pm

    how tragic to lose such a brilliant person…
    :(
    RIP…

  • mark godsey on 09.22.2009 at 9:58 am

    safety

    This is a very unfortunate story. My daughter is a BU student who lives off campus. 6 floor walkup with access to the roof. no safety barriers at all on the roof. Just walk up to the edge… 60 feet straight down. There are also no safety barriers on any of the surrounding brownstone roofs. This tragedy could easily happen again. Should BU get involved in some way? Perhaps working with the local rental agencies that thrive on student apartment rentals? Pushing the fire department to inspect these buildings where people are exposed to this very real, life threatening danger? Just a thought.

  • Mikey on 09.22.2009 at 11:13 am

    This is upsetting because it’s easy to think that our present lives are the only form of existence, since this is all we know; but if we try to think about how intricate the make up of life really is– atomically, molecularly, etc., and how it all pieces together (which we still don’t know and probably never fully will), there’s just no way that our perception of consciousness is the full extent of the truth. In other words, I believe that we don’t just pass away, but we literally move on.

  • Anonymous on 09.22.2009 at 3:37 pm

    Re: Safety

    Re: safety – this tragedy didn’t happen because of a faulty balcony or a loose railing. It happened because a student, according to friends, had been drinking all day. All dorm buildings should be structurally safe of course, but along with this need is the need for students to be responsible for themselves and their actions – and for each other.

  • Anonymous on 09.23.2009 at 10:07 am

    WHY?????????

    I want to know more!!!! How come such a brilliant student who understands and seems so responsible could come to such an END?? I want to know more … Is his Brilliance to be blamed for ?? Or his Intellectness to be Blamed for ..?
    I want to know MORE……

  • Anonymous on 09.29.2009 at 11:29 am

    re: safety

    i don’t think it’s feasible to create student-proof housing. the article and the truth of the matter both probably give someone a sense of “a very unfitting end”, but this unmentionable contradiction doesn’t necessarily point to some external factor

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