Indian Immigrant Makes Good on Dreams to Become Researcher

Saeed Khan
Retired Professor, University of Florida – Department of Urology

Growing up in his native India, Saeed Khan’s parents were adamant their eight children attend college. Khan was always impressed with textbooks—especially the references. “It became my dream to become a researcher so I could be cited at the end of textbooks,” he said.

He made good on that dream. He studied biology, completed his master’s in botany and received a Fulbright to pursue his PhD in the same subject at the University of Florida in Gainesville. There, he met and married his wife, before taking a post-doc in Australia. When the program ended, the couple quickly returned to Florida. Besides the perk of being closer to his in-laws, Khan jokes, “I hate cold weather.” 

The University of Florida Department of Urology hired Khan in 1978. He worked full time until his semi-retirement in 2018 (he is now an emeritus professor). He is also associate editor at Urolithiasis, a quarterly journal dedicated to researching kidney stones. In 2016, UF and The American Urological Association awarded him lifetime achievement awards for his research trying to understand and stop the formation of kidney stones. “Kidney stones affect approximately 1 in 11 people in U.S. and is a recurrent disease,” he says. 

Today Khan sits on the board for the Alachua Habitat for Humanity chapter. “Once you give the key to the new home owner and you look at their face, that is the most amazing feeling you get,” he says. He serves as a board member for the local United Nations chapter, Welcoming Gainesville and several City of Gainesville departments, and was previously president of the Muslims Association of North Central Florida. He says the city could be doing more to address economic disparity, like pegging the local minimum wage to inflation and investing in more affordable housing options. But he applauds them for establishing a $15 minimum wage and launching the GRACE Marketplace nonprofit to reduce homelessness. 

Khan credits his parents for his drive to give back. “We grew up knowing you were supposed to help those who need it,” he says. “And that’s something almost everybody—whether you are a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Sikh or have no faith at all—has in us. It brings us together for the common good.”

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