Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman

Atta-ur-Rahman, FRS, D.Phil., TI, SI HI, NI, is a leading scientist and scholar in the field of organic chemistry from Pakistan, especially renowned for his research in the various areas relating to natural product chemistry. With over 909 publications in the field of his expertise including 116 books largely published by leading publishers in Europe and USA and 27 patents, he is also credited for reviving the higher education and research practices in Pakistan


Atta-ur-Rahman has had a prominent record in Cambridge Overseas School Certificate in 1958, and ‘A’ Levels in 1960 from the Karachi Grammar School. In 1963, he received B.Sc (Hons.) in Chemistry, followed by M.Sc in Organic Chemistry from Karachi University. He received Commonwealth Scholarship in 1965 to study for Ph.D in Organic Chemistry under supervision of Dr. J. Harley Mason and received Ph.D at Kings College, Cambridge in 1968. With more than 900 international publications, including 116 books and 25 international patents, he has the distinction of being the only scientist to be elected Fellow of Royal Society (London) in 2006 in recognition of research contributions carried out within a country in the Islamic world. He is also the only scientist from the Muslim world to have been awarded the UNESCO Science Prize (1999).
He was awarded an Honorary Life Fellowship by Kings College, University of Cambridge in 2007, an honorary Doctorate of Science by University of Cambridge in 1987, a Doctorate of Education by Coventry University in 2007,[2] a Doctorate of Science by Bradford University in 2010, a Doctor of Philosophy by Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand in 2010 and honorary Doctor of Scıence by University of Technology MARA. Malaysıa.[3] A number of other universities have also granted honorary doctorate degrees to Atta-ur-Rahman including University of Karachi, Sir Syed University and Gomal University.

Academic career

Atta ur Rahman started his career in 1964 as a Lecturer at University of Karachi. He remained Fellow at Kings College, Cambridge between 1969 to 1973, and is presently Honorary Life Fellow at Kings College, University of Cambridge, UK. In 1977, he became Co-Director of Husein Ebrahim Jamal Research Institute of Chemistry at University of Karachi to become Director in 1990. He has over 909 international publications in several fields of organic chemistry including 701 research publications, 27 patents, 116 books and 65 chapters in books published by major U.S. and European presses. Seventy-six students have completed their Ph.D. degrees under his supervision.

HAARP Research

In 2010 Atta ur-Rahman, published his views that the United States government had financed a science research project in Alaska which could affect weather.[4][5] This sparked off a debate when Pervez Hoodbhoy lamented the decline of academic standards in Pakistan.[5][6] The views of Pervez Hoodbhoy have been strongly refuted by neutral international authorities, Fred Hayward (US consultant to USAID),[7] Wolfgang Voelter (Tübingen University)[8] and Michael Rode (Innsbruck University, Chairman of UN Commission on Science, Technology & Development) [9] who have praised the remarkable transformation of the higher education sector in Pakistan under the leadership of Atta-ur-Rahman.[10] A number of major international prizes and awards have also been won by Atta-ur-Rahman in recognition of these contributions [10] Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman has subsequently clarified that he did not state that HAARP could cause earthquakes but he did refer to the European Union resolution that condemned the US funded research on HAARP which could potentially alter weather patterns and on which 12 US patents had been obtained [4]

Positions held

Prizes, honours and awards

Prof Rahman is the most decorated scientist of Pakistan having won four civil awards by successive governments including the highest national Civil Award of Nishan-i-Imtiaz.Prof. Rahman was elected as Fellow of Royal Society (London) in July 2006 thereby becoming one of the 4 scientists from the Muslim world to have ever won this honor in the last 350 years when the Royal Society was established, and the only scıentıst to be so recognısed for researches carrıed out wıthın a Islamıc country. He is also the only scientist from the Muslim world to have been conferred the UNESCO Science Prize in 1999.[11] 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) and an Honorary degree of Doctor of Education by Coventry University UK in November 2007.
He was elected Honorary Life Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge University, UK in 2007. Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman was conferred the TWAS Prize for Institution Building in Durban, South Africa in October 2009 in recognition of his contributions for bringing about revolutionary changes in the higher education sector in Pakistan.He was awarded the Engro Excellence Award in Science & Technology 2011 with a prize of Rs. 5 million (US $ 59,000) for meritorious contributions. He then proceeded to use the money in addition to funds from his private finances to establish a research center on Genomics in Karachi University named after his father Jamil-ur-Rahman, and to start a TWAS Prize in Chemistry for deserving young researchers from developing countries that has been instituted by TWAS Academy of Science for Developing World, Trieste, Italy.[12]
He is President of Network of Academies of Sciences of Islamic Countries (NASIC) and the Vice-President (Central & South Asia) of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) Council, and Foreign Fellow of Korean Academy of Sciences. Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman was the President of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences (2003–06), and was again elected President of Pakistan Academy of Sciences in January 2011. He was the Federal Minister for Science and Technology (14 March 2000 – 20 November 2002), Federal Minister of Education (2002) and Chairman of the Higher Education Commission with the status of a Federal Minister from 2002-2008. The Austrian government also honoured him with its highest civil award (“Das Große Goldene Ehrenzeichen am Bande”, 2007) in recognition of his eminent contributions.
Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman was the Coordinator General of COMSTECH, an OIC Ministerial Committee comprising the 57 Ministers of Science & Technology from 57 OIC member countries during 1996-2012. He is also the Patron of International Centre of Chemical and Biological Sciences (which comprises a number of institutes, including the Hussain Ebrahim Jamal Research Institute of Chemistry and the Dr. Panjwani Center of Molecular Medicine and Drug Development) at Karachi University.[13]In recognition of the eminent contributions of Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman, a number of institutions have been named after him within and outside Pakistan. These include a natural product chemistry institute (Atta-ur-Rahman Research Institute of Natural Product Discovery, RiND) at the University of Technology Mara in Malaysia,[14] Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences at National University of Science & Technology in Islamabad,[15] and Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman Building at the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences, University of Karachi [16] The Academy of Sciences in the Developing World (TWAS) based in Trieste, Italy has introduced a Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman Prize in Chemistry to a scientist from the developing world each year. The Prize carries a cash award of $ 5,000 and a Certificate.[17][1]
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