Usama al-Khalidi touched the lives of hundreds of people: his family, his friends, his students, and sometimes perfect strangers. His infinite wisdom, his quick wit and sense of humour, and his warm presence made him the “go to” person for advice, whether to solve a scientific question, or help make a personal decision. The excerpts below reflect that indelible mark.  If you have a story to share, please send it to us.


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Usama is not just a distinguished scientist, he is a distinguished human being. In his case, a “beautiful mind” is complemented by a superb personality, an unfailing sense of humour, the special streak of modesty that is the hallmark of all great men, the self-deprecating air of those who are truly accomplished, and the simplicity of those who retain vestiges of childhood throughout their later years. The greatest tribute to Usama is that his many friends and admirers will always consider him a class act that is impossible to follow
— Dr. George Najjar, Dean the Suliman Olayan School of Business

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Usama al-Khalidi is one of the most original thinkers and creative scientist that I have encountered. What I learned under Prof. al-Khalidi was not only biochemistry, but a way of thinking and scientific logic that is at the heart of the scientific discovery process, the type of thinking that led to the discovery of the bacterial operon or restriction enzymes. Usama took science very serious, and would drill a student with unique pedagogy, keeping a most lighthearted laughter that made learning complex equations and concepts fun.
— Ghaleb Daouk, M.D., S.M.

It did not take me a long time to realize what a remarkable person Usama was. He had a brilliant and inquisitive mind, an excellent sense of humour, and a generous and unassuming personality. He considered research as an intellectual experience rather than a task to obtain results and publish papers.
— Dr. Avedis Khachadurian, MD and Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry & Medicine, Rutgers University

To Dr. al-Khalidi, teaching was not conveying information, but instilling seeds of creativity, provoking students’ minds to question and think, and empowering their confidence to criticize analyse and conclude. I remember that Auntie Nazira accompanied many of his lectures. Through her, Dr. al-Khalidi taught us that Biochemistry is our daily experience. For example, the process of glycolysis is best exemplified by Nazira’s fermentation of sugar, baking, lactic acid formation. He and Nazira guided our steps over the bridge that links us in real life to biochemistry.
— Dr. Julnar Usta, Professor of Biochemistry
                                               Auntie Nazira, one of Usama al-Khalidi’s aunts; often used to explain complex concepts in biochemistry

                                               Auntie Nazira, one of Usama al-Khalidi’s aunts; often used to explain complex concepts in biochemistry


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Usama had a broad knowledge of literature, art, politics and history, both in Arabic and European cultures, which made it possible to see relationships and analogies that others missed. He could illustrate a point with either a classical Arabic tale or a quotation from a British or American author. One of his favourite authors was James Thurber, and he would sometimes use the quote, “The unicorn is a mythical beast”, when confronted with a perplexing lab finding.
— Dr. Elmon Coe, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry