Prof. Azad obtained his BSc (Hons) and MSc in Biochemistry from Dhaka University, and PhD in Molecular Biology from University of Toronto (1973). His doctoral and postdoctoral research clearly established the molecular mechanism for the reversible association of ribosomal subunits during protein synthesis. After two years of postdoctoral training in Canada he joined the faculty of Australian National University’s Research School of Biological Sciences. He then joined CSIRO’s (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia) Division of Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology in Melbourne in 1980 to lead the research in molecular virology, and was promoted to the position of Chief Research Scientist in 1990. His research helped in the discovery and development of the anti-Influenza drug Neuraminidase, one of the very first structure-based and rationally designed drugs. He led the research in the discovery, development, and commercialisation of a recombinant subunit vaccine against a highly immunosuppressive virus (IBDV), for which he was awarded the highly prestigious CSIRO Chairman’s Gold Medal for Exceptional Achievement. He concurrently held the position of Founding Head of Molecular Biosciences at the Biomolecular Research Institute (BRI) in Melbourne. At CSIRO and BRI he made seminal discoveries leading to better understanding of the molecular basis of HIV/AIDS pathogenesis and strategies for arresting progression to AIDS.
At the end of 1999 Prof. Azad resigned from CSIRO and accepted the position of Foundation Director of Research, and Professor of Medical Biotechnology, at the Health Sciences Faculty of the University of Cape Town (South Africa). In this position he played important roles in establishing the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IIDMM) and the Cape Town component of International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB). Other honorary appointments as Board Member of the South African Medical Research Council, Member of the Council of Scientific Advisors of ICGEB (Trieste, New Delhi and Cape Town), CAPRISA (a pan-African network of infectious diseases research and clinical trials in Durban), and USHEPiA (a research and academic development network of eight universities in Sub-Saharan Africa), led to extensive travel and interactions in Sub-Saharan Africa, which motivated him to devote his time and expertise to research capacity development in Bangladesh and other technology and resource poor countries in the developing world, which he has been doing pro bono since his retirement from gainful employment in 2007. He is an elected Fellow of five different science academies and is currently Visiting Faculty at International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) at Karachi University.