By Saima Bacicanin
Novi Pazar (Serbia), Two hours after the end of the workday, in the reception area of a bright clinic with just several chairs, people are patiently waiting to be received. Each of them is here with a different problem, but all are confident that the young doctor they came to see can provide the help they need.
With numerous awards hanging on the waiting room wall and an overbooked schedule, 30-year-old Jasmin Nurkovic is already a successful doctor. His expertise in stem cell research is known not only in Serbia, but internationally.
Agile and always smiling, Nurkovic has reassuring words for every patient, taking time to see even those who arrive after working hours.
“Instead of working until 8pm, they work till tomorrow,” a woman waiting for her appointment says with a smile.
While waiting to be received, people share the problems they have had in the past and the ways that Nurkovic helped them. Some claim that they visited many other doctors when they were ill, but none could cure them except Nurkovic.
As a child, he imagined himself as a doctor, and pursuing that dream was his next step after finishing primary school.
“I thought I did not have enough knowledge or points to get into medical school, but my father told me to try, so I did – and I got in. After that, I knew that medicine was something I wanted to do,” Nurkovic said with a smile.
Having graduated from the Faculty of Medicine in Belgrade with a grade point average of 9.7 out of 10, he works as an assistant professor at the State university of Novi Pazar and owns a center for rehabilitation and regeneration.
“He is one of the few professors who has the knowledge and knows how to convey it to the students. For many students, he is an inexhaustible source of inspiration and motivation,” said one of his former students, Lejla Sacirovic, now a co-worker.
Nurkovic is best known for his stem cell research that can lead to the acceleration of the healing process of bone and muscle injuries.
“One of my greatest wishes is to apply what I do in the laboratory and what I read about to my patients who come to complain about their pains,” he said.
Several studies by Nurkovic have been published in esteemed American science magazines, such as Stem Cell Journals, and they have been cited more than 70 times.
“Having your research published in those journals means that a Japanese, Swedish, German, American or Chinese scientist can read the results of your research and say, ‘Look what they have done. We are going to prove that this is not correct,’ or they can say, ‘This is great! Let us repeat this and improve it.’ … Those results are seriously analyzed everywhere in the world.”
Serbia ranks lowest in Europe when it comes to budgetary allocations for science, usually leaving its scientist with very old equipment. Despite the conditions, Nurkovic manages to be one of just several people researching stem cells in Serbia.
Unlike many, he decided to stay in Novi Pazar rather than taking his talents elsewhere, with the intention of making his hometown “a better place to live.”
Aside from his many jobs, Nurkovic still finds time for his family and his community. He is happily married and the father of a baby boy.
Along with one of his best friends, Dzenan Hajrovic, he is the co-founder of a non-governmental organization called Front. The organization consists of roughly 80 highly educated and successful people, working to improve the local community by organizing educational seminars, cleaning the city, and providing donations to help local students pay for school supplies.
“[He is] an exquisite member of society, someone who is recognized in his field, someone who is known as good, honest, hard-working – someone who represents what we consider a real system of values,” said Hajrovic.
Nurkovic is also a part of the crew of Serbia’s famous mid-distance runner and the country’s first Olympic team member from Novi Pazar, AmelaTerzic.
“After the first time I went to physical therapy at his clinic, I broke the state record for 800 meters,” Terzic, former world 1500m junior silver medalist, said.