Student Star: Osman Mahboob

FSU senior discovers passion to help underserved populations

Name: Osman Mahboob
Major: Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences
Graduation: Fall 2021

“The most important lesson I have learned as a student at FSU is to always be resilient. Not every class will go as planned, not every research project will turn out as expected, not every extracurricular effort will bear the acknowledgment it deserves.”

Growing up in Tallahassee, Florida State University senior Osman Mahboob has always been an avid fan of all things FSU.

“Coming out of high school, I knew that Florida State would provide me with an abundance of opportunities to challenge myself, expand my social network and open doors to higher education,” Mahboob said. “Armed with those ideas, I applied exclusively to FSU and never looked back.”

Arriving at FSU with a keen interest in health care, Mahboob decided to major in Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences with a specialization in public health administration and policy and emphasis on the homeless population.

“My interest in this field of study stemmed from my passion to incite reform in health care and make access to quality patient care viable for individuals from all socioeconomic backgrounds, particularly those residing in underserved areas,” he said.

Before college, Mahboob had the opportunity to shadow a variety of local physicians, allowing him to gain insight into the various advantages and disadvantages of the U.S. health care system.

“Getting to observe and learn under compassionate physicians who prioritize transparent patient care has inspired me to pursue the lifelong journey that a career in medicine represents,” Mahboob said.

That experience in high school propelled him to pursue service and research opportunities as he works toward a future as a medical doctor.

As a freshman, Mahboob volunteered with the local American Cancer Society (ACS) branch where he familiarized himself with the national nonprofit organization’s structure as well as cancer research operations.

“This experience allowed me to interact with a range of people who incited hope and positivity even in the most difficult of times,” he said. “It was at ACS where I was able to mature into a better listener and someone who strives to genuinely sympathize with the concerns of others.”

While he served as treasurer of the FSU Muslim Student Association, Mahboob’s interest in underrepresented populations prompted him to help establish the “Project Lake Ella.” This initiative strives to create meaningful connections between FSU students and a local population of individuals experiencing homelessness.

“What made our service notable was our mission to form tangible social connections and lasting relationships with community members who looked to the streets for sanctuary,” he said.

The project provided necessities that would otherwise be difficult for many individuals experiencing homelessness to acquire on a regular basis, such as warm socks, hygiene products and blankets.

“We continue to strive to incite meaningful discourse and listen to the concerns of Tallahassee locals who look to the streets for shelter,” Mahboob said. “By providing empathic listening ears along with helpful resources, we fostered positive relationships and gained a greater perspective as to the stark realities present in the greater Tallahassee area.”

Mahboob recently accepted a volunteer position with The Florida Coalition to End Homelessness, which works collaboratively toward the prevention of homelessness and the creation of lasting solutions for homeless and at-risk families, children and individuals throughout the state of Florida.

“I acknowledge that we are incredibly fortunate to live in a country with world-leading health care resources” Mahboob said. “With that said, the experiences that I have compiled through my service work have served to provide a stark view of some of the disparities in the reach of health care.”

This past spring, Mahboob delved into research, conducting a Directed Independent Study at the Roper Laboratory in the FSU Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. There, he has developed key laboratory skills such as performing non-survival surgeries on murine specimens, extracting pancreatic tissue samples, isolating islets of Langerhans cells and running chemical assays.

“I was attracted to the Roper lab due to their extensive work on diabetes and the secretion of blood-glucose regulating hormones,” he said. “Growing up in a family with a hereditary history of type 2 diabetes, the overarching theme of the Roper lab hit close to home.”

Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic disease which is the result of the pancreas not being able to produce enough insulin, cells being desensitized to insulin or a combination of both circumstances.

“Being exposed to the realities of insulin insensitivity from a young age, I have always had a desire to help advance the body of knowledge surrounding diabetes research,” he said.

Under the supervision of FSU’s Michael Roper and doctoral student Valerie Zaffran, Mahboob conducted a research project that explored trends in ATP release from pancreatic cell clusters known as islets of Langerhans.

The project led to a proposal that earned the 2020 Professor Jack Saltiel Undergraduate Research Award.

With COVID-19 currently restricting undergraduate research, Mahboob hopes to continue this project and present his findings at the President’s Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence in the fall.

“The most important lesson I have learned as a student at FSU is to always be resilient,” he said. “Not every class will go as planned, not every research project will turn out as expected, not every extracurricular effort will bear the acknowledgment it deserves.”

Despite these challenges, Mahboob continues to work diligently to maintain a high standard of academic achievement. Since earning a place on the president’s list during his first semester, he transferred into the Honors Program, giving him a variety of unique curriculum opportunities.

After graduation, Mahboob plans on applying to medical school, hoping to serve the growing demand for physicians in underserved areas.

“Looking back on my time at FSU, I am incredibly proud of what I have accomplished with the help of inspiring mentors, faculty and fellow students,” he said. “I have learned to always lean on my family for support and guidance and always keep a positive attitude when faced with adversity and challenges.”