All in the Family

Cavalier native Basir Tareen, MD, completes the circle, calling upon the man who used to call on Tareen’s father in rural North Dakota to make a gift to the School

tareenDrs. Mohiba (top-left) and Basir (seated) Tareen and their five children

Basir's Story

Basir Tareen, MD, was impressed.

Having been asked to return to his alma mater to give a “urology case wrap-up” for second-year medical students in early 2017, the Cavalier, N.D., native almost couldn’t believe the size and scope of the facility he was touring in his unassuming home state.

“I was pumped up when I saw how cool the new medical school was—and a little jealous,” admitted Tareen to North Dakota Medicine. “I remember thinking, ‘I wish we had this [when I was in medical school]. This is so awesome.’”

So impressed was Tareen, that he made it a point to connect with former SMHS Development Director Dave Gregory shortly after his lecture to discuss going about making a donation to the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) that year.

Completing the circle

A 2002 graduate of the SMHS, the younger Tareen connected with Gregory, who had worked in the pharmaceutical industry and called upon Tareen’s father Jamil Tareen, MD, many decades ago.

For most of his career, Dr. Jamil Tareen was the only surgeon within a 40 mile radius in northeastern North Dakota. Jamil and his wife Rehana had emigrated from Pakistan to the United States via Canada, said Basir, where the elder Tareen completed his residency.

“They came for an interview in Cavalier and really fell in love with the town,” Basir laughed. “Their initial plan was to stay for only a couple of years—you know, get a foot in the door, see what America is all about. But they just stuck around.”

For his part, Gregory remembers well Basir’s father. “Dr. [Jamil] Tareen always stopped and gave me a couple minutes of his time,” he said. “I remember him as a kind and curious man, a call I always looked forward to.”

Gregory began visiting Jamil up in Cavalier not long after Jamil had established a practice. So it was that 35 years after Basir’s parents settled in North Dakota and met Gregory, the circle completed itself: the Tareens’ son graduated from the UND SMHS and eventually reconnected with Gregory in an effort to make a gift to the School—the Tareen Family Medical Scholarship Endowment.

It’s a storyline that tends to happen only in places like North Dakota.

“I was fortunate to have the medical education I did,” Basir added. “During my first year, the School chose some students to get a full tuition waiver and I was lucky enough to be picked. So I felt like this was my chance to give back.”

Reserved for one third- or fourth-year medical student each year, the scholarship was designed by Basir and his spouse Mohiba, a dermatologist in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, not only to support the next generation of physicians, but recognize the contributions Jamil and his family made to North Dakota medicine over several decades.

“We wanted to support students who embody the principles my father displayed for decades as a rural surgeon,” Basir said. “This includes a strong commitment to service, especially in under-served areas.”

Patient-centered learning

Basir is not shy about crediting the SMHS patient-centered learning curriculum—or PCL—with helping him get to where he is today: a successful urologist with Minnesota Urology and CEO of Tareen Dermatology, the dermatology group founded by Mohiba and Basir.

Calling PCL “great”—the foundation of his practice today—Basir says he cannot imagine learning medicine any other way. “They had completely renovated [the former SMHS, now known as Columbia Hall] and my class was the first to go through the new PCL curriculum,” he continued. “It was a pretty big shift from the ‘lecture hall’ model to how they do things now with small group learning and patient-based care. Back in the day you’d have two years of didactic-only science lectures where it was a challenge to see the applicability to patient care. For our class, it was refreshing to learn the science that was based around patients and clinical vignettes. I think that really helped a lot when we went into our third and fourth years.”

It was this shift that Basir says helped push the SMHS to the next level of medical education and push him not only toward a urology residency at Northeast Ohio Universities College of Medicine (now Northeast Ohio Medical University), but also a fellowship in urologic oncology at New York University Medical Center, several publications to his name, and a successful practice that allowed him to give back to the School.

All in the family

An attending physician with Minnesota Urology since 2011, Basir today lives in Minneapolis with Mohiba and the couple’s five young children, ranging from eight months to eight years of age. Retired since 2005, Basir’s parents live nearby in the Twin Cities.

Dr. Jamil Tareen has stayed busy not only with his grandchildren, but also founding and running a volunteer medical group, known by the acronym OMEED, which helps provide medical care in underserved regions of his native Pakistan.

That’s a lot of physicians in close proximity. And given that not only Basir’s but Mohiba’s parents are physicians, one cannot help but wonder if the couple’s children have expressed any interest in medicine as well.

“One can always hope,” Basir shrugged, acknowledging the challenges of balancing work life with family life. “They’re pretty young yet. But we’ve been very lucky. Medicine has been very good to us and we both love our jobs and taking care of patients.”

The inaugural the Tareen Family Medical Scholarship will be awarded later this year.


Future donors interested in leaving their own legacy or contributing to existing endowments are encouraged to visit the UND Alumni Association and Foundation.