Wayne State University

Wayne State University professor receives lifetime achievement award for research on Iraqi refugee and immigrant health disorders

DETROIT— A Wayne State University professor of family medicine and public health sciences has been recognized for his contributions to medicine and research with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Iraqi Medical Sciences Association (IMSA).

Hikmet Jamil, M.D., Ph.D., resident of West Bloomfield, Mich., director of occupational and environmental medicine graduate courses and professor in the Division of Occupational and Health Sciences in WSU’s School of Medicine, received the award from IMSA President Saad Shakir on May 28, 2011, during the association’s ninth annual convention in Troy, Mich.

“I feel very honored to be recognized for my work,” said Jamil, whose primary areas of research include Iraqi refugee and immigrant health disorders, and the impact of hookah (water pipe) smoking on health. “Awards such as these are always appreciated, and I will use it to fuel my efforts to improve medical science and the health of others.”

The IMSA is a nonprofit, nonpolitical organization whose members include physicians, dentists, pharmacists, scientists and other health science professionals of Iraqi descent. The association works to develop and promote professional, educational, cultural and humanitarian charitable efforts for the community and for Iraq.

Dr. Jamil received his medical degree from Baghdad University. While there, he served as program director for postgraduate studies in occupational medicine and community medicine. He acted as an external examiner for the Board on Community Medicine of the Jordanian Medical Council for seven years. As the president of the International Society of Iraqi Scientists, he has been recognized with awards from a number of academic institutions, nonprofit organizations and the World Health Organization.

He has worked for six years with the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services and two years with the Arab American and Chaldean Council in Southeast Michigan. He has twice been invited to present by the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Research.

Dr. Jamil is co-investigator of a National Institutes of Health–funded study that is tracking Iraqi refugees in metropolitan Detroit who have been exposed to war in their home country. The study aims to determine the effect of post-migration factors such as employment, language classes, and mental and social health services in mitigating stress and post-traumatic stress disorder. Metropolitan Detroit has long been home to one of the world’s largest populations of Arabic people outside the Middle East. Increasingly, more are relocating to the region to escape the horrors of war and ethnic and religious conflict. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 35 percent of U.S. residents who were born in Iraq now live in Michigan. This number includes about 12,000 Muslims and 90,000 Chaldeans or Christian Iraqis. Much of the Chaldean population has settled in Oakland and Macomb counties. Many of these new immigrants suffer effects associated with the horrors they saw and experienced in their homeland.

The study may be the largest to date that investigates stress resiliency and risk factors in Iraqi refugees who have experienced war as noncombatants. It is also the first study ever of refugees in which there will be a mechanism to study a random sample of immigrants at the time they arrive in their host country.

“Dr. Jamil is a respected and internationally recognized occupational and health researcher,” said co-investigator Bengt Arnetz, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences, and director of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. “He has dedicated his research and services to improving the health and well-being of workers in general as well as vulnerable community members, including persons exposed to war and refugees. He plays an important role in our division’s global work on environmental health justice, including studies of Iraqi refugees in Sweden, the Middle East, as well as in Detroit. I am truly delighted that Dr. Jamil has received this distinguished award. It will further cement his commitment to environmental health issues.”

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Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit http://www.research.wayne.edu.