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Sommer Scholars

Ahmed Hassoon

Master of Public Health Student

While helping out at a Baghdad public health center run by one of his professors, Ahmed Hassoon witnessed a wave of anti-intellectual violence. In 2004, his mentor, who ignored death threats and orders to close the clinic, was assassinated while riding in a car with Hassoon. “The bullet only scratched my head,” he recalls. “After that I did not stop and look back. I resolved to keep going, serving my country.” He soon began working at an ill-equipped public hospital in southern Iraq. Three years later, while working for a nonprofit humanitarian agency, Hassoon was kidnapped as he waited for U.S. soldiers to diffuse a roadside bomb along the route from his Baghdad office to a suburban public health center. He didn’t know the reason, the perpetrators or why he was ultimately released within hours. Still, he remained undeterred to provide medical care for his fellow Iraqis. He was the first Iraqi to be named an Atlas Corps Fellow (2012–2013). Here at the Bloomberg School, Hassoon’s interests include clinical research. Having taken note of the dust that lingers after ammunition explodes—heavy metals used in weapons not only contaminate the environment but also threaten people’s health—Hassoon has plans to establish a nonprofit research center in Baghdad to study that problem and others. “I want to bring research back to Iraq,” he says, “because it was destroyed during the war.” 99: Hassoon is on the Diplomatic Courier 2013 Top 99 Under 33 List which recognizes young, influential foreign policy leaders.