Haji Zoona Band lecture will explore cancer biology

UNMC's Hamid Band, MD, PhD, with his mother, Haji Zoona Band

UNMC's Hamid Band, MD, PhD, with his mother, Haji Zoona Band

Hamid Band, MD, PhD, the Elizabeth Bruce Professor of Cancer Research in the Eppley Institute, says it would make his late mother, Haji Zoona Band, happy to know that a lecture bearing her name is focused on enhancing cancer research and treatment, as well as supporting graduate student education.

The Haji Zoona Band Cancer Biology Lecture will take place today (May 22). The featured speaker is Christina Curtis, PhD, the RZ Cao Professor of Medicine, Genetics and Biomedical Data Science at Stanford University. She will present “Towards Forecasting Cancer Initiation and Progression: Genomic, Host and Microenvironmental Factors” at 3 p.m. via Zoom.

Haji Zoona Band was a homemaker who raised five children. “Neither of my parents had any formal education at all,” Dr. Band said. “My mom was completely illiterate. But both my mother and father thought education was the way forward.”

Raised in India, Dr. Band left that country during peaceful times, but due to prolonged violence in the area around Kashmir, he was able to return only one time between 1986 and 2005 to visit his parents.

“My parents put all five of us through school,” Dr. Band said. “My brother, youngest sister and I were the first in the family to go to college.”

Haji Zoona Band was about 77 when she died of cancer in 2009. “It was a cancer of unknown origin, likely stage four and most likely in an organ in her abdomen,” Dr. Band said. “Her illness was very sudden and progressed quickly. She was diagnosed in May, we visited her in June, and she died in July.”

It was a shock to Dr. Band, his wife, Vimla Band, PhD, professor and the Ardith and Anna Von Housen Chair of the UNMC Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy, and their family to lose Hamid’s mother this way.

“The medical care in that area was so primitive,” Dr. Hamid Band said. “The suddenness of the entire process, and the fact that we could do nothing, coupled with not seeing her much in my adult life, it was a major loss. Vimla suggested doing something, and we began to talk about how to honor her memory.”

Graduate students select two to four speaker nominees and then confer with the Bands. The speakers being considered are typically women in science and work in the area of cancer biology and metastatic disease or focus on women’s cancer.

“Supporting the next generation of graduate students who are going to find treatments and other strategies for fighting cancer was the best way to keep her memory alive,” Dr. Hamid Band said.

“The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center thanks Drs. Hamid and Vimla Band for their strong support of cancer research as demonstrated by this named lecture,” said Joann Sweasy, PhD, director of the cancer center.

“The Eppley Institute is extremely grateful to Hamid and Vimla for their dedication to enhancing the education of graduate students through the Haji Zoona Band Cancer Biology Lecture,” said Joyce Solheim, professor and director of the cancer research doctoral program in the Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases and associate director for training and education at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

To obtain a link for viewing the lecture, email Chris Whitted.


  1. Rana says:

    May Haji Zoona Rest in Peace. She has left an impactful legacy.

  2. Beth Beam says:

    Beautiful impact. Good reminder of the further need to consider global health initiatives. Well done Band family.

  3. Surrinder Kumar Bakshi says:

    Hamid and Vimla -That is great of both of you to remember your mother and keep her memories alive.We miss them more when they are not around.I understand the struggle our mothers faced to raise us in Kashmir in those days where money was less and struggle was more.May her soul rest in peace
    Surrinder Kumar Bakshi 1971 Batch MBBS GMC Srinagar Kashmir

  4. Yasmeen Bhat says:

    God bless her soul. May this valuable gesture bring peace and tranquility to her soul..

  5. Varun Raina says:

    May the departed soul rest in peace and guide the younger generation

  6. Sudha Chaturvedi says:

    It is such a wonderful and moving story about a mother who gave her children the best gift of education despite all the hardships. Carrying her legacy is a lovely gesture on your part. May her soul rest in peace!

  7. Vimla says:

    Thanks everyone for joining us to honor Mojh. Seminar was highly successful with over 138 persons in attendance.
    Thanks to our outstanding speaker, Dr. Christina Curtis, who presented her exemplary ground breaking work on diagnosis, prognosis and therapy of breast cancer. The combination of Bioinfornatics/AI and biology is the way to conquer multifactorial disease like cancer.

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