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Dr. M. Nasar Qureshi: “Every life that has been lost only matters to the people that person was dear to”

It appears that at some level, from day one, a large portion of the population worldwide either knowingly or unknowingly discarded the possibility that COVID-19 could become a serious pandemic. They minimized the effects, including loss of life, that related to it. It frightens me when people equate COVID-19 to the H1N1 virus (influenza) in […]

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It appears that at some level, from day one, a large portion of the population worldwide either knowingly or unknowingly discarded the possibility that COVID-19 could become a serious pandemic. They minimized the effects, including loss of life, that related to it. It frightens me when people equate COVID-19 to the H1N1 virus (influenza) in terms of loss of life because COVID-19 has far exceeded what we experienced with H1N1.

Every life that has been lost only matters to the people that person was dear to. Otherwise, lost lives just become another number in the total. For students of history, the dead will always be part of a statistic, and they will never feel the impact of each lost life on families and friends. Even worse is the fact that we as a human race have refused to learn from the lessons of history, like the Spanish Flu, despite being reminded again and again that another pandemic was imminent.


As part of my series about people who stepped up to make a difference during the COVID19 Pandemic, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. M. Nasar Qureshi, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. M. Nasar Qureshi, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Medical Officer of QDx Pathology Services, is a recognized leader in the medical field for diagnostic excellence. He completed professional training at Tulane University School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, Beth Israel Medical Center and North Shore University Hospital. Dr. Qureshi specializes in clinical and anatomical pathology and has contributed to more than 50 articles published in peer-reviewed journals. He has also served as the lead investigator for several institutional and NIH-funded grants. Dr. Qureshi currently acts as President of the American Pakistan Foundation.

This year, the QDx Pathology Services team has served our country by providing clients nationwide with fast, accurate COVID-19 test results in 48 hours or less. Quick results can be the difference between life and death. The QDx team takes this responsibility very seriously, working many nights and weekends to keep clients safe and healthy. QDx also received an Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA for their Qdetect test, an at-home collection kit used to test for COVID-19 via nasal specimens.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how and where you grew up?

I was born in Karachi, Pakistan. I spent my formative years through my time in medical school there. I left Karachi for the United States to pursue my Ph.D. at Tulane University.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

In my opinion, hardly any book can help you formulate real ideas that will make an impact on society. Rather, true learning opportunities come from “the book of life.”

I owe everything I know to my fabulous mentors. My greatest learning experiences have come from teachers who allowed me to observe them as they worked.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

Each day at our morning hospital meetings to discuss issues from the past 24 hours, one of my mentors used to say “kiss,” which stands for “keep it simple, stupid.” I’ve found this to be true throughout my medical career. When you boil issues down to their least common denominator, solving the problem from that point up becomes much more manageable.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. You are currently leading a social impact organization that has stepped up during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to address?

Traditionally, QDx Pathology Services has been a certified pathology laboratory specializing in cancer diagnosis for patients who had diagnostic procedures. We also have an associated molecular biology laboratory, which is catered to molecular analyses of infectious diseases and supported diagnostic efforts.

The advent of COVID-19 led to an immense number of delays in reporting results, which put a lot of people in peril and allowed uncontrolled exposure to family and friends. This phenomenon really struck home when I lost my mother to COVID-19 due to a lack of adequate testing and availability of hospital facilities, albeit not in the United States. Two days later, I lost my youngest brother to COVID-19. He was a gastroenterologist in Louisiana and spent ten days checking in and out of hospitals. He could not receive proper medical care because his COVID-19 test results took over a week to return.

At that point, I decided QDx had the capability and expertise to do COVID-19 testing and provide timely and accurate results for our own community, at a minimum. We are proud to now serve clients nationwide.

In your opinion, what does it mean to be a hero?

Heroes are not usually recognized. True heroes cater to the needs of the time without looking for self-recognition or promotion.

In your opinion or experience, what are “5 characteristics of a hero? Please share a story or example for each.

Heroes are typically high achievers, passionate about their work, selfless, have a firm conviction and desire to enact positive changes.

If heroism is rooted in doing something difficult, scary, or even self-sacrificing, what do you think drives some people — ordinary people — to become heroes?

Heroism is not equivalent to extreme risk-taking. Someone who jumps from a parachute in space is amazing but not a hero. Real heroes are those driven to make a difference in the lives around them without looking for a reward.

What was the specific catalyst for you or your organization to take heroic action? At what point did you personally decide that heroic action needed to be taken?

When I lost my mother and uncle to COVID-19 in a matter of days, I decided QDx needed to jump in and begin providing COVID-19 testing. The decision wasn’t easy, as I knew my team would have to sacrifice many nights and weekends. Still, everyone was on board and more than willing to serve our community in this way.

Who are your heroes, or who do you see as heroes today?

My personal heroes will always be my mentors who sculpted my life and career. Some include Dr. Carl Teppire and Dr. Stanley Bauer, Chair and Vice-Chair of the residency training program I attended at Beth Israel Medical Center, Dr. Edward Baton, Head of the microbiology program at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, and Dr. Lee Henderson, who was my mentor after my Ph.D. program. I would also be remiss not to mention my parents, to whom I owe everything.

Let’s talk a bit about what is happening in the world today. What specifically frightened or frightens you most about the pandemic?

It appears that at some level, from day one, a large portion of the population worldwide either knowingly or unknowingly discarded the possibility that COVID-19 could become a serious pandemic. They minimized the effects, including loss of life, that related to it. It frightens me when people equate COVID-19 to the H1N1 virus (influenza) in terms of loss of life because COVID-19 has far exceeded what we experienced with H1N1.

Every life that has been lost only matters to the people that person was dear to. Otherwise, lost lives just become another number in the total. For students of history, the dead will always be part of a statistic, and they will never feel the impact of each lost life on families and friends. Even worse is the fact that we as a human race have refused to learn from the lessons of history, like the Spanish Flu, despite being reminded again and again that another pandemic was imminent.

Despite that, what gives you hope for the future? Can you explain?

As a race and nation, humans are incredibly resilient. We have always come out on the brighter side of the tunnel.

As far back as we can go in history, the human race has faced many obstacles and has always moved forward. The perfect example is 9/11. Once again, I hope that our next generation does not think of COVID-19 as an event which they will never face and not forget the concept we are still in the process of comprehending.

What has inspired you the most about the behavior of people during the pandemic, and what behaviors do you find most disappointing?

I’m inspired by all the people who have given their time, energy and even their lives to help fight this virus. There are heroes everywhere; all you have to do is look around at the grocery store or in your neighborhood to find people who are going above and beyond.

I’m disappointed by those who refuse to acknowledge COVID-19 as a genuine threat to society.

Has this crisis caused you to reassess your view of the world or of society? We would love to hear what you mean.

My view of the world is no different today than it was a year ago. Humans have always behaved in the same manner, but we need to be students of history to learn from our mistakes.

Often when things are going well, humans assume it’s our right and that good things will always happen for us automatically. On the other hand, when facing times of crisis, we blame other people for our mistakes. If nothing else works, we pray. I think humans need to learn that no one can shape our futures and control our destinies other than ourselves.

What permanent societal changes would you like to see come out of this crisis?

I’d like to see unity of purpose when we face our next challenge, rather than division of purpose and behavior based on political view. It would also be great to see a higher level of comprehension about what is happening around us. This is hard to achieve on an individual level; however, it can be easily reached on the community level if we have proper leadership.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

It is your future and the future of your offspring. Either we do it now, or we never do.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’ve meant to do this for years, but I’d like to start a drive called “Fast to Feast.” The idea came from the fact that many religions emphasize fasting. Fasting has also become trendy in health and fitness circles. Since fasting is used for religious and health-based purposes worldwide, I would like to set up a program that donates the food saved from each fasted meal and shares it with another person who cannot afford one square meal a day.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I’d like to sit down to a meal with the people who worked tirelessly to bring us the COVID-19 vaccines. They have pushed the boundaries of science and technology.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can find me on Facebook and Instagram at Nasar Qureshi. Visit QDx Pathology Services’ website at qdxpath.com or on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/qdx-pathology-services/.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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