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Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies: International Workshop Proceedings The Role of Chemistry and Biology in the Future Development of Iran MOJTABA SHAMSIPUR Razi University The publication rate of Iranian scientists in international journals has quadrupled over the past decade. More than 30 percent of publications belong to the field of chemistry alone. In fact, Iranian scientific output has skyrocketed since 1993, placing the country well ahead of most of the Islamic countries (currently second after Turkey). Meanwhile, the average impact factor of the Iranian papers has also risen considerably. The admirable advances in the field of science and technology, brought about after the Islamic revolution of 1979 in the country, have transformed Iranian lives in a multitude of ways. This is quite evident in almost every facet of human endeavor, including the economy, health, transportation, communication, agriculture, engineering, and so forth. In the current 20-year perspective of Iran, science and technology are considered an imperative for sustainable national development, with the national goal of self-sustainment in all scientific fields. During the past two decades, the extensive high-level research in the chemical and biological sciences together with the outstanding promotion of scientific activities by the Iranian Chemical Society and Iranian Biological Society have also strongly influenced the promotion of their interfacial sciences, including biological chemistry, biotechnology, nanoscience, and nanotechnology. During this period, the government of Iran has increased investments in support of fundamental and applied research throughout the country and especially in the fields of biotechnology and nanotechnology. According to the fourth social, economic, and cultural development plan, nanotechnology is one of Iran’s priorities in technology. The government has established a special committee for nanotechnology development (National Committee for Nanotechnology), which is headed by
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Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies: International Workshop Proceedings the Deputy President and composed of representatives of six ministries and five experts and managers. Since the mid-1980s, the country has witnessed the birth and rapid growth of several highly productive research institutes where biologists and especially chemists play key roles. They include the National Research Center for Genetics Engineering and Biotechnology (NIGEB) and the Institute of Biosciences and Biotechnology, with widespread activities in genetics and molecular biology, medical biotechnology, plant biotechnology, animal and marine biotechnology, and environmental biotechnology. The Iran Nanotechnology Laboratory Network, with 39 main member laboratories, provides researchers and active industries in nanotechnology with laboratory services and covers most of their technical needs. Most of the primary equipment relating to identification and characterization of nanostructural materials and also the equipment relating to nanoresearch in medical and biotechnology fields are available in the network. The Iran Polymer and Petrochemical Institute, the Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Research Center are also among the research centers. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY STRATEGIES FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT Technology management is a very wide-ranging topic. All countries require three groups of technologies to support national development: technologies for basic needs, technologies for the improvement of quality of life, and technologies for wealth creation. Science and technology strategy must therefore be holistic and comprehensive, addressing the role and needs of the major players in a nation, which are government, industry, the science and technology community, and society at large. The role played by each of them is briefly described: The government must be generally supportive, provide means for science and technology development, and use technology to improve efficiency. Industry must be able to use technology for creating wealth, thus enhancing economic growth. It must support science and technology development and be the major developer of technology. It must also support the generation of knowledge. The scientific community must make an all-out effort toward the generation and uses of scientific knowledge and innovation. The community at large must support a scientific infrastructure that enriches the scientific culture. National development perspectives must be prepared very carefully by taking into account the national vision, a long-term perspective and a five-year development plan.
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Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies: International Workshop Proceedings There are basically three aspects of the development of science and technology, namely policy, strategy, and action. These need to be carefully prepared and implemented. It is well known that technology management is a key factor in modern knowledge-based productive systems. Technology management encompasses the various mechanisms, processes, and infrastructure necessary to foster, promote, and sustain the development of science and technology, the organization of science and technology activities, and putting science and technology to work for economic growth and for the attainment of overall national development objectives. In the public sector, the various components of technology management include integration of science and technology planning into overall national development planning as well as science and technology contributions to objectives, goals, and plans. This approach needs a science and technology advisory system and a process for free flow of information between public and private sectors and between science and technology sectors and other sectors. The various components of technology management in the private sector are integration of technological elements into scenario building and corporate planning; mechanisms for technology input and coordination, including technology surveillance and technology prospecting; technology acquisition and enhancement, including in-house or out-of-house sourcing at the interfirm level; and mechanisms for human resources development (at the firm and interfirm levels). Figure 1 describes the flow of science and technology information in development planning, which involves the society, government, economy, and science and technology strategies and programs. The science and technology planning process that is the key to growth is quite complicated. It involves a large number of factors, such as national vision and goals, policies, strategies, finance, evaluation, and so forth. Figure 2 describes the interrelation of various factors involved in the science and technology planning process. For the success of the science and technology planning process, information flow between industrial development, policy planning, science and technology development, and national development policy is very important. A large number of factors and parameters need to be known and coordinated. Figure 3 gives a brief description of the interrelation between various factors and issues.
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Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies: International Workshop Proceedings FIGURE 1 Flow of S&T information in development planning. FIGURE 2 The planning process.
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Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies: International Workshop Proceedings FIGURE 3 Information flow between systems: policy for S&T and S&T for policy. PRODUCTION OF SCIENCE IN IRAN As previously noted, since 1993, the publication rate of Iranian scientists in Institute of Scientific Information (ISI) journals has skyrocketed. Such achievements have been highlighted by well-known scientific publications. Some examples are given below. Iran’s long march (Nature 435:247–248, 2005, www.nature.com/nature The publication rate of Iranian scientists in international journals has quadrupled over the past decade. The Iranian scientists have put together strong research groups while carefully steering clear of politics. They are determined to help build a research infrastructure that will outlast their own careers. Foreign scientists should assist their grassroots efforts. An Islamic science revolution? (Science 309:1802–1804, 2005, www.sciencemag.org The first fruits of Iran’s biotech achievements are ripening. The Agricultural Biotechnology Research Institute has completed field trials of a genetically modified variety of local rice called Farom molai. Risk assessment and biosafety
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Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies: International Workshop Proceedings studies of the rice, equipped with the gene for making a Bacillus thuringiensis protein that is toxic to insects, are under way. At NIGEB, the plant biotechnology group is conducting field trials of various resistant sugar beets and herbicide-tolerant canola, and the industrial biotech department is scaling up in a new pilot plant for production of a recombinant human growth hormone. Middle Eastern nations making their mark (Science Watch 14(6), 2003, www.sciencewatch.com/nov-dec2003/SIN_nov-dec_page1.htm In recent years, Iran has substantially increased its presence in world science, according to papers indexed by Thomson ISI between 1981 and 2002. A new Science Watch survey examines the output and impact of a selected group of Middle Eastern nations over the past 20 years. As Figure 4 shows, Iran’s output in science, although still comparatively small, has increased sharply in the past decade. Bridges to Iran (Lancet 359:1960, 2002,www.thelancet.com Iran has high educational standards. Its universities and health care system are well structured and well founded, but different. Iran prefers the medical university model to the Western model of medical faculty within a university. Iranian medical universities are responsible for health care delivery. There is a direct correlation between the production of science and economic growth of different nations in the world. The first-ranking country in science FIGURE 4 Publication rate of Iranian papers since 1974.
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Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies: International Workshop Proceedings production is the first in economic growth. Thus, it is not surprising for Iran to have experienced rapid economic growth since 1993, which correlates well with its rapid publication rate. During the period of 1996–2005, 15 Iranian scientists were able to publish more than 100 scientific papers each in international ISI journals. Thirteen were Iranian chemists whose names, affiliations, and number of published papers are listed in Table 1. Three are young chemists who obtained their Ph.D. degrees from Shiraz and Tehran Universities during the past decade. Figure 5 shows those Iranian universities with more than 100 ISI papers published in 2005. There are 18 Iranian universities whose faculty members have published between 104 and 625 papers in international journals cited by ISI in 2005. The Iranian scientists have also had a good level of collaborative research with scientists in different countries of the world, as shown in Figure 6, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, Italy, India, and Switzerland, with a total of more than 1,150 papers. The field rankings for Iran in the period 1996–2005, released by the ISI, are shown in Table 2. During this time, the Iranian scientists published 19,900 papers in ISI journals with an average of 2.79 citations per paper. The field of chemistry, with a relatively high citation per paper of 3.96, is far ahead of other scientific fields such as engineering, clinical medicine, and physics. Since the first establishment of Ph.D. programs in chemistry in 1985 at Shiraz University and later at 15 other universities and two chemistry institutes, more TABLE 1 List of Iranian Chemists with More Than 100 Scientific Papers in ISI Journals Between 1996–2005 Name Affiliation No. of ISI Papers M. Shamsipur Razi University 337 M. M. Heravi Azzahra University 219 I. Yavari Tarbiat Modares University 182 M. A. Zolfigol Bu-Ali Sina University 153 A. R. Hajipour Isfahan University of Technology 140 N. Iranpoor Shiraz University 136 H. Firouzabadi Shiraz University 135 M. R. Ganjali Tehran University 129 H. Sharghi Shiraz University 127 S. E. Mallakpour Isfahan University of Technology 115 I. Mohammapour-Baltork Isfahan University 103 M. Ghasemzadeh Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Institute of Iran 102 A. Safavi Shiraz University 100
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Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies: International Workshop Proceedings FIGURE 5 Iranian universities with more than 100 ISI papers published in 2005. FIGURE 6 Nationalities involved in published joint research studies.
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Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies: International Workshop Proceedings TABLE 2 Field Rankings for Iran (1996–2005) No. Field Papers Citations Citations per Paper % Contribution 1 Chemistry 6,100 24,176 3.96 30.6 2 Physics 1,933 7,565 3.91 9.7 3 Clinical medicine 1,986 5,480 2.76 10.0 4 Engineering 2,906 5,042 1.74 14.6 5 Pharmacology and toxicology 597 1,940 3.25 3.0 6 Plant and animal science 1,167 1,705 1.46 5.9 7 Materials science 990 1,589 1.61 5.0 8 Biology and biochemistry 565 1,345 2.38 2.8 9 Neuroscience and behavior 272 1,074 3.95 1.4 10 Agricultural science 422 801 1.90 2.1 11 Geosciences 434 744 1.71 2.2 12 Environment/ecology 291 718 2.47 1.5 13 Mathematics 783 714 0.91 3.9 14 Molecular biology and genetics 129 546 4.23 0.6 15 Immunology 143 472 3.30 0.7 16 Psychiatry/psychology 125 435 3.48 0.6 17 Computer science 463 342 0.74 2.3 18 Space science 119 253 2.13 0.6 19 Social sciences, general 148 189 1.28 0.7 20 Economics and business 34 38 1.12 0.2 All fields 19,900 55,507 2.79 than 450 Ph.D. students have graduated, and more than 3,500 scientific papers based on their theses have been published in international journals. Meanwhile, Ph.D. programs in biology have also been established in the country, although at a lower rate than those of chemistry. Examples of famous Iranian scientists are as follows: Geber (731) is well known as one of the first Iranian chemists. Jahez (776) was an Iranian biologist who published a book entitled Animal that described combat survival and adaptations between organisms and environments. Rhazes (Razi) (864) is known as the first chemist who discovered alcohol and sulfuric acid and their uses. He wrote Secretes and classified animals, plants, and soils suitable as elixirs. He also published several books on medicine, which were translated into Latin several hundred years ago. Avicenna (Bu-Ali Sina) (980) was a brilliant scientist who published many monographs on various aspects of sciences, including chemistry and biol-
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Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies: International Workshop Proceedings ogy, and his books Ghanon (Law) and Shafa (Cure), translated into many languages, are the earliest medical texts in Europe. Alhazen (Ebne Meisam) (1038) described for the first time the structure of the eye and compared its mechanism of working to a dark room. Heravi (1541) and Aghili-Khorasani (1771) can be considered the founders of plant physiology, who presented for the first time new ideas on plant–soil relationships, the effect of light on plants, the increasing resistance of plants to the elements, mineral absorption via leaves, and the effect of organic materials on the taste of fruit. JICS (http://www.ics-ir.org/jics/) welcomes high-quality original papers in English dealing with experimental, theoretical, and applied research related to all branches of chemistry. This scope includes the fields of analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry as well as chemical biology. Review articles discussing specific areas of chemical or biological importance are published. The journal is currently abstracted and indexed in Thomson ISI products: Science Citation Index-Expanded including the Web of Science, ISI Alerting Service, and Chemistry Citation Index; and Chemical Abstracts (Columbus, Ohio) EXAMPLES OF IRANIAN RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTIONS Examples of some key Iranian research and development centers that receive large contributions from Iranian scientists, especially chemists, are presented below. National Biotechnology Committee (NBC) To fulfill the objectives of the third national plan for social improvements, cultural developments, and economic progress, and also considering the importance of biotechnology and its increasing applications in different fields such as industry, agriculture, medicine, protection of the environment, national security, and defense, the NBC (http://ibw.nrcgeb.ac.ir/) was established by order of Iran’s President on January 23, 2001. The committee works under the supervision of the Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology. The NBC objectives are as follows: enriching the scientific background of biotechnology and developing biotechnology, expanding and improving the biosafety aspects of biotechnology applications with regard to Islamic and human values, and increasing public and managers’ knowledge of biotechnology.
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Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies: International Workshop Proceedings Related professional commissions are Basic Science, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Medicine, Animals and Aquatic, Industry, Defense and National Security, and Biosafety and Environment. National Research Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology NRCGEB was established in 1989 under the Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology (http://www.nrcgeb.ac.ir/). Since then, NRCGEB has been given a mandate to undertake original, state-of-the-art research activities. It has been established with the dual purposes of promoting research in avant-garde areas of biological sciences and biotechnology and providing advanced training and education programs for scientists and students from other universities and academic institutions. The center activities have been focused on five major areas, including medical biotechnology, plant biotechnology, animal and marine biotechnology, industrial and environmental biotechnology, and basic sciences. In each division, a strong emphasis is placed on a highly innovative and pioneering investigation in the fields of both basic and applied biology. About 170 employees including 93 researchers (41 Ph.D.s) are currently working at the center. In addition, there are also researchers from universities and research centers from inside the country and around the globe who are cooperating with the center through shared research projects and applied educational courses. The Iranian Journal of Biotechnology publishes original scientific research papers in broad areas of biotechnology. The main areas include agriculture, animal and marine sciences, basic sciences, bioinformatics, biosafety and bioethics, environment, industry and mining, and medical science. The language of this journal is English, and it is indexed by ISI. Agricultural Biotechnology Research Institute of Iran (ABRII) ABRII (http://www.abrii.ac.ir) is one of the national agricultural research institutes under the supervision of Agricultural Research and Education Organization (AREO). AREO is an organization of the Ministry Jihad-e Agriculture. ABRII was established in 1983 as the Plant Biotechnology Department of the Seed and Plant Improvement Institute. It was upgraded to the level of an independent institute in 1999. ABRII’s research activities are mainly focused on the field of advanced plant molecular biology and biotechnology. As a national research institute, ABRII strives to promote applied and basic research in plant science and technology and organizes workshops for advanced training of experts who are involved in research and development.
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Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies: International Workshop Proceedings Other related biotechnology institutes include Pasteur Institute of Iran (http://www.pasteur.ac.ir/), Razi Vaccine and Serum Institute (http://www.rvsi.ac.ir/), and Agricultural Biotechnology Research Institute (http://www.abrii.ac.ir/). Polymer and Petrochemical Institute The Iran Polymer and Petrochemical Institute (IPPI: http://www.iranpolymerinstitute.org) was established in 1986 on 22 acres of land to carry out applied research in polymer science and technology and to help local industry in training engineering students at the postgraduate level, as well as taking on direct challenges to meet their needs. IPPI, with more than 110 highly trained staff at the Ph.D. and master’s levels, has eight research divisions, including rubber, plastic, composite and paint, adhesive and resin, novel drug delivery systems, polymer science, special polymers, and biomaterials. These divisions are supported by the technical and engineering department of the institute for their development projects. IPPI departments include Department of Polymer Science and Catalysts, Polymerization Engineering Department, Color, Resin, and Surface Coatings Department, Composites and Adhesives Research Department, Plastic Research Department, Rubber Research Department, Novel Drug Delivery Systems Research Department, Department of Polymer Science and Catalysts, Biomaterials Research Department, Polyurethane Department, and Gas Conversion Group. The Iranian Polymer Journal (IPJ, http://journal.ippi.ac.ir) includes IPPI scientific achievements. The journal is well received in international academic circles. The submission of articles from worldwide sources is a promising sign that the IPJ, within its short life, has gained international recognition. Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics (IBB) IBB (www.ibb.ut.ac.ir) was founded in 1976 with the triple purposes of fulfilling research in the areas of biochemistry, biophysics, and related areas; performing collaborative research activities with domestic as well as reputable research centers around the world; and training students at the master’s and Ph.D.
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Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies: International Workshop Proceedings levels. In that year, the institute admitted 19 M.Sc. and four Ph.D. students in molecular cell biology. Ever since, and especially from 1988 onward, IBB has been actively engaged in training graduate and doctoral students in biochemistry and biophysics. The other main activity of IBB is basic and applied research in biochemistry and biophysics, including exchanging scientific information with other research centers and institutions both inside and outside the country. IBB is regarded as one of the prestigious research institutes affiliated with the University of Tehran, and as such it enjoys a high position among the research centers in the country. Two important research centers of IBB are the Iran Bioinformatics Center and the Biomaterial Research Center. Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Institute of Iran (CCEII) CCEII (http://www.cceii.org/en/index.php) is housed in a four-story research building in the northwest of Tehran. This research center is affiliated with the Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology. The joint efforts of chemists and chemical engineers are to fulfill the following goals: to provide fundamental and educational research facilities related to all chemical and chemical engineering areas and to diversify the talent of chemists and engineers. To make modern facilities available at pilot and semi-industrial levels, the center has been taking an active part in recognizing, elaborating, and conducting some of the national research projects since 1989. More than 50 full-time staff members work in the research, administration, and service departments. In addition, a number of scientists and researchers from other universities and educational centers in Iran and abroad cooperate with the center in research projects. CCEII is comprised of five research laboratories in the areas of analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, organosilicon chemistry, and chemical engineering. Iranian Nanotechnology Initiative (http://www.irannano.org/) According to the fourth social, economic, and cultural development plan, nanotechnology is one of Iran’s priorities in technology, and there is a special committee for nanotechnology development (National Committee of Nanotechnology). The missions of the committee include ratification of the goals, strategies, major policies, and plans to develop nanotechnology in country, classification of the responsibilities of the governmental entities, determination of their missions, and coordination among them, and monitoring of the implementation of the plans.
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Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies: International Workshop Proceedings Nanotechnology Policy Studies Committee, Technology Cooperation Office The Nanotechnology Policy Studies Committee (http://www.tco.gov.ir/nano/) has been established to study the different aspects of this technology, its applications, and its impacts on other technologies. To formulate the country’s macro infrastructure, it is necessary to have a survey of the following: applications and impacts of nanotechnology, potential of different countries in nanotechnology, necessary infrastructures such as national laboratories, educational programs, and scientific networks, and the potential in the universities and research centers as a basis for allocating research activities to them. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) The research division of AEOI (http://www.aeoi.org.ir/) consists of several research centers as follows: Nuclear Fusion Research Center, Gamma Irradiation Center, Center for Renewable Energy Development, Nuclear Research Center for Agriculture and Medicine, Information and Data Processing Center, Reactor Research and Operation Department, Research Center for Lasers and Their Applications, Yazd Radiation Processing Center, Bonab Research Center, and Nuclear Fuel Production Division.