Jacob Khuri ’17

Amman, Jordan
Biochemistry major

Jacob Khuri has spent his life going back and forth between U.S. and Jordan, but it took a trip outside both of these countries to find his true purpose.

During a May Term course, his class traveled with Chaplain John Walsh to Cuba. Khuri, a biochemistry major, became interested in the country’s nationalized healthcare system and what Cuban-trained physicians are doing around the world.

The way Cuban physicians are taught to be global citizens was appealing, Khuri says. He, like both his parents, has dual U.S.-Jordan citizenship and he’s always had one foot in America and the other in his hometown, Amman. He lived in the U.S. twice—he spent third and fourth grade attending Smiley Elementary School in Redlands and his junior and senior year at El Toro High School in Lake Forest—so his sense of community spanned a much bigger geographical area.

“We’re living in a more globalized society,” Khuri says. “You don’t always live in just one place.”

Although Khuri once lived in Redlands, that had very little bearing on his decision to attend the University. All he knew was he wanted to go to a small liberal arts college, and he knew he wanted to live in Southern California.

He heard about University of Redlands from his mother’s friends, and when he looked into it, he realized he could receive significant financial help. “I think without the University’s financial aid, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it at all,” he says. “I would have chosen a university in the UK or in Canada.”

At Redlands, Khuri has spent many hours in the laboratory synthesizing new ruthenium metal complexes, a research project with Chemistry Professor Henry Acquaye. They are making chemical compounds that are potential treatments for cancer. “In cancer treatments today, cisplatin, a platinum-based anti-cancer agent, is used but causes severe side effects,” says Khuri. “My project is synthesizing an alternative, ruthenium.”

Khuri has also completed internships at Loma Linda Medical Center where he helped build a model for an ideal ureteral guide wire and at University of New York, Buffalo where he studied the impact of food insecurity levels among Iraqi, Somali and Burmese refugees in the U.S.

Khuri says he plans to continue with his medical education after graduating from Redlands and hopes to make the kind of global impact he saw medical professionals making in Cuba.