Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Professor Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman

Professor Dr Atta-ur-Rehman, FRS, holder of Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Hilal-e-Imtiaz, Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Tamgha-e-Imtiaz; is ‘Advisor to the PM’, Federal Minister and Chairman of Higher Education Commission. His rich portfolio also tells us much more about his designations, awards and honors. Nevertheless, he is a down-to-earth and humble soul.

Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rehman signifies success and his personality exhibits brilliance. Eminence does radiate irrespective of class, creed and religion – for the very nature of eminence allows it to stand out, always. Dr Atta-ur-Rehman carries himself with contentment and humbleness, thus revealing the gratification which he truly possesses.

If we think of distinctions in academia, of professionalism at work, of honest struggle and of glory stretched out, the eminent figure of Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman presents itself as the complete personification of all these ideas.

Academically, he has been really very sound right from the very early stage of his academia. He got 1st Position in O Levels way back in 1958 and again topped in his A Levels in 1960. After completing his ‘Overseas Higher School Certificate’ from Cambridge with flying colors he did his “B. Sc (Hons) in Chemistry” (Year 1963) in First Division and secured 2nd Position. His appetite for knowledge and intellect always encouraged him to continue acquiring knowledge with a resolve so strong that he never gave in. He then did his “MSc in Organic Chemistry” from Karachi, in which he secured 1st Position and was placed in 1st Division (Year 1964). Finally he became Doctor Atta-ur-Rehman when he did his “P.hD in Organic Chemistry” from Kings College – Cambridge University (Year 1968). The title of Thesis being: "Synthetic Studies in the Indole Alkaloid Field" (Supervisor: Dr. J. Harley Mason).

The young boy made it. Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman did his PhD at an age in which it is an honor, for sure. Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman has over 761 publications in the fields of organic chemistry including 15 patents, 94 books and 59 chapters in books published by major U.S. and European presses and 508 research publications in leading internatinal journals. On the basis of his researches 68 students have been awarded Ph.D. degrees in various areas of natural product chemistry.

In the year 1964, he taught at Karachi University as a Lecturer. Then for his research for PhD he remained a Commonwealth Scholar at Kings College, Cambridge University from 1965 to 1968. To focus on teaching and research, he again remained on the duties of a teacher at Karachi University as Assistant Professor in 1969. After that, he joined Fellow (Don) Kings College, Cambridge University as ‘Fellow’, and remained there from 1969 to 1973. He further explored new avenues of research and guided MPhil and PhD students as Associate Professor at Postgraduate Institute of Chemistry, University of Karachi from 1974 to 1976. He then worked with H. E. J. Research Institute of Chemistry, University of Karachi from 1977 to 1980 as Co-Director in Basic Pay Scale 20. In 1979, he went to University of Tuebingen, Germany and was designated there as D.A.A.D Fellow. He is Coordinator General of COMSTECH for quite some time now. He remained ‘Federal Minister for Science & Technology’ from 14th March, 2000 to Oct, 2002. He also remained Federal Minister (In-charge) Ministry of Education from July 2002 to Oct. 2002. He is also looking after ‘Ministry of Science and Technology’ and ‘Higher Education Commission’.

He works day in and day out, thus serving Pakistan with commitment and dedication.


His Awards and Honors are too long to be summed up in this very brief profile. A brief overview of his awards is given below.
The Royal Society London was established in 1645 under the charter of Royal Decree of the United Kingdom. Since then the Society has had some of the most eminent scientists of the world including over 100 Nobel Laureates and such luminaries as Sir Issac Newton and Sir Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein as its Fellows. Prof. Atta-ur-Rehman was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society on 14th July, 2006.

Prof. Atta-ur-Rehman is well known in his field for his prolific research publications in the field of natural products chemistry, for the excellent international chemistry conferences which he regularly organizes in Pakistan, and for his contributions in the establishment of one of the best centers in natural products chemistry (H.E.J. Research Institute of Chemistry).

He was awarded the degree, Doctor of Science, of Cambridge University (Sc.D.), which was conferred, on him in October 1987. Sir Syed Engineering University awarded D.Sc. to Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman in October 2003, Gomal University awarded D.Sc. degree in April 2004 while University of Karachi honoured him with D.Sc. in 2005. He was the first recipient of the award of “Scientist of the Year” (for 1985) conferred by the Government of Pakistan in 1987, and he was awarded the “Islamic Organization Prize” by the Minister of Health of Kuwait on behalf of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science for the year 1987 after an international competition (conferred on him in Cairo in November 1988). He has received the First Khwarazmi Prize after a competition between scientists of 57 Islamic countries. The prize was conferred on him by the President of Iran on 8th February, 1993. He was conferred the Award of the Federation of Asian Chemical Societies in Hiroshima, Japan in 1997. He has won four Civil Awards (Nishan-e-Imtiaz (Highest National Award), Hilal-e-lmtiaz. Sitara-i-lmtiaz and Tamgha-e-lmtiaz) and was also the President of the Chemical Society of Pakistan. He received the prestigious UNESCO Prize in a special ceremony in Budapest, Hungary in June 1999. He is the first Muslim scientist who has received this international honor.

Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman was the President of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences from 2003-2006 and is the President of the Network of Academies of Sciences in the Countries of the Organization of Islamic Conferences (NASIC) (2004-present).
He aspires to make the educational institutions of Pakistan ‘Pockets of Excellence’ and has indeed come a long way in making ‘Higher Education Commission’ as a institutionalized set up.

In Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman success stands personified; truly and verily.

(Profile by: Talha Abbasi)

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