Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman – A Pride of Pakistan, A FIRST EVER Muslim to have a genome mapped

Dr. Atta-Ur-Rehman is a house-hold name for every Pakistani who has had the chance to go to a Higher Education Institute in Pakistan. He is best known as the man who proved to be a ray of bright light at the end of a dark long tunnel for hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis like me to pursue their educational dreams in Universities and Colleges across Pakistan and around the globe.

There is a long list of achievements that can be listed against Dr. Atta-Ur-Rehman. He is a leading scientist and scholar in the field of Organic Chemistry with over 840 Publications in the field of his expertise including 663 Research Publications, 18 Patents, 103 Books and more than 50 Chapters in books published by major U.S and European Press Institutes.

He is 1 of the only 4 Muslim scientists to have been elected as a Fellow of Royal Society, London. He has been conferred honorary doctorate degrees by many universities around the world and been awarded countless awards for his contribution towards Science & Technology.

However, the most distinguished award to date for this son of the soil is that he has become FIRST EVER MUSLIM man to have a genome mapped. He is the 3rd one amongst the list of globally renowned people whose genomes have been mapped by scientists. With this historic achievement Pakistan has become the 6th country working on the genome projects and joined the ranks of few countries – U.S, UK, China, Japan and India – which have successfully sequenced human genome.

This is a moment of great pride for us that Pakistan has proved itself as the leader of Muslim Ummah once again in the Field of Science & Technology as this project was completed by Pakistani scientists at a cost of approx. $40,000 in just 10 months with China contributing $20,000 towards the project, whereas the genome of first American was mapped at a cost of $6bn, across a 10 year period.

It is pertinent to mention here that the research team, who mapped the genome, consisted of Dr Kamran Azim, Assistant Professor in the Dr Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research and Dr Yong Zhang, head of the genomics department at the Beijing Genomics Institute, Shenzhen, China, one of the leading authorities in genomics.

Dr Kamran Azim has acknowledged the fact that the complete Pakistani genome has been sequenced for the first time, and that this research will improve the diagnosis of disease, while the earlier detection of genetic predispositions to diseases will also be a benefit of this research. He said, “The new thing in the study was the technique which can trace back a mutation to the specific parent. We are still studying the actual genome data itself and how the genetic differences we identified may predispose this particular individual to certain diseases”.

In Pakistan we are brought up in an environment and culture where becoming a Doctor, Engineer, Scientist or a Lawyer is the best one can achieve. There are a selected few who go the Armed Forces to protect their Mother Land but these Doctors, Engineers & Scientists are the selected ones who are equipping Pakistan with the latest inventions and discoveries and making the Country a growing hub for technological advancements.

I hope that this milestone helps us strengthen the hopes that all is not lost for us as Pakistanis and there is still a long way to go forward.

May Allah Bless my PAKISTAN with more people like Dr Atta-Ur-Rehman who can follow his lead and become the FIRST EVERs in their respective fields of expertise. Aameen!!

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