By Minhas Justin
Pakistan’s most decorated scientist is contributing his valuable services through prime minister’s task forces on science and technology; technology driven knowledge economy, and information technology
The Hunan University of Chinese Medicine (HUCM) has named its newly-established One Belt One Road TCM Research Center after Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman at its main campus in Changsha, capital of China’s Hunan province.
In 2011, the National University of Science and Technology (NUST-Pakistan) has established Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences (ASAB) in Islamabad. In 2013, the University of Technology Mara (UiTM-Malaysia) has established Atta-ur-Rahman Institute on Natural Product Discovery (AuRins).
The university arranged a special event in the main campus to rename the centre with the Pakistani educationist and scientist. Professor Wei Wang of the Hunan University said that this centre is indeed a humble recognition of Prof Atta-ur-Rahman’s scientific contributions in the field of traditional medicine, and his leadership of developing scientific collaboration between Pakistan and China.
Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rahman is the first scientist from the Muslim world to have won the prestigious UNESCO Science Prize in 1999. In recognition of his contributions for bringing about revolutionary changes in the higher education sector in Pakistan, he was conferred Italy’s prize for institution building in 2009. The Austrian government also honored him with its highest civil award –Grosse Goldene Ehrenzeischen am Bande – in 2007 in recognition of his contributions.
Professor Wei Wang said that it is also a celebration of induction in the highest honor of fellowship of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He said that the Hunan University is China’s one of the largest public sector universities, recognized internationally for excellence and quality of research. He said that the university also has a large number of foreign students, including 500 Pakistani scholars.
Prof Atta-ur-Rahman, who obtained his PhD in organic chemistry from the Cambridge University in 1968, has 1232 publications in several fields of organic chemistry including 771 research publications, 45 international patents, 70 chapters in books and, 341 books published largely by major American and European media outlets. It is pertinent to mention here that he is the editor-in-chief of eight Chemistry journals of Europe.
Prof Atta-ur-Rahman is also editor of the world’s leading encyclopaedic series of volumes on natural products –Studies in Natural Product Chemistry, 62 volumes of which have been published under his editorship during the last two decades. As many as eighty-two students have completed their PhD degrees under his supervision. He has been conferred honorary doctorate degrees by many universities including the degree of Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) by the Cambridge University (UK) (1987), Honorary degree of Doctor of Education by Coventry University UK (2007), Honorary D.Sc. degree by Bradford University (2010), Honorary Ph.D. by Asian Institute of Technology (2010) and Honorary Doctorate from King of Malaysia (University of Technology, Mara, 2011). He was elected Honorary Life Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge University, UK in 2007.
Prof Atta-ur-Rahman, who was elected as fellow of the Royal Society of London in 2006, is president of the Network of Academies of Sciences of Islamic Countries (NASIC), foreign fellow of the Korean Academy of Sciences, and foreign fellow of the Chinese Chemical Society.
He has won the International Scientific Corporation Award by Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) in 2014 for building scientific collaborations between Pakistan and China.
He received prestigious Einstein Professorship by Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in 2013 and has been awarded highest award Friendship Award of China on September 28, 2014. Recently, he has been appointed as consultant for the Education Forum Asia (2015-2020) and foreign member of Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2015.
He has been elected as the president of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences twice from 2003-2006 and 2011-2014.
Prof Atta-ur-Rahman was the federal minister for science and technology from 2000 to 2002, federal minister for education in 2002 and chairman of the Higher Education Commission from 2002-2008. He was the coordinator general of COMSTECH, an OIC Ministerial Committee comprising the 57 Ministers of Science & Technology from 57 OIC member countries from 1996 to 2012. He is distinguished national professor as well as professor emeritus at the Karachi University. He has been appointed as chairman of the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Science and Technology, vice chairman on Prime Minister’s Task Force on Technology Driven Knowledge Economy, and co-chair of the Task Force on Information Technology. He is the most decorated Pakistani scientist having won four civil awards – Tamgha-i-Imtiaz in 1983, Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 1991, Hilal-i-Imtiaz in 1998, and the Nishan-i-Imtiaz in 2002.