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16 October 2009

TWAS Awards First Regional Prizes for Scientific Institution Building

TWAS has awarded its first Regional Prizes for Building Scientific Institutions. The awards ceremony will take place at the TWAS 20th General Meeting in Durban, South Africa.

The Prizes, which will be awarded every three years by each of the Academy’s five regional offices, recognize individuals who have played key roles in the establishment of vibrant scientific institutions or the expansion of already-established institutions in the developing world. Each awardee receives a USD3,000 cash award. Instituted in 2007, the TWAS Regional Prizes rotate each year among three areas. Last year’s prizes were given for science education; in 2010, they will recognize efforts in the popularization of science. 

BadranTWAS Arab Regional Office (TWAS-ARO) has awarded the prize toAdnan Badran (TWAS Fellow, 1991), professor and president, Petra University, Amman, Jordan, and president, Arab Academy of Science. Badran has held a number of prominent posts in his home country, including serving briefly as Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, in 2005. As Minister of Education (1989) and of Agriculture (1998), he guided the establishment and improvement of Jordan's scientific and educational institutions. In 1987, he founded Jordan's Higher Council for Science & Technology (HCST), which is responsible for all scientific institutions in the country, and, in 1975, Yarmouk University. He also helped in the expansion of two private universities in the country – Philadelphia and Petra Universities. At the international level, Badran served as UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Science (1990–94) and as Deputy Director-General (1994–98). In these capacities, he played an important role in the administrative transfer of TWAS from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to UNESCO and in strengthening the Academy's financial support. 

BaryamureebaTWAS Regional Office for Sub-Saharan Africa (TWAS-ROSSA) has awarded the prize to Venansius Baryamureeba, professor and dean, Faculty of Computing and IT, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. Baryamureeba's achievements include transforming the Institute of Computer Science, where he became director in 2001, from a small, underequipped centre (with 7 academic staff, fewer than 30 students and 80-sqm facilities) to the Faculty of Computing and IT. The department now counts some 90 staff with PhDs and over 200 with master's degrees, 5,000 students, and grounds of 15,000 sq metres. It is the largest of its kind in Africa. Baryamureeba also played a key role in other institutional developments at Makerere University, where he has served as senator since 2001 and been a member of the University Council since 2006. He championed the organization of the university's Annual International Conference on Computing and ICT Research, which has attracted internationally known scholars as keynote speakers. He has also been instrumental in building ICT teaching and research capacity at all the public universities in Uganda through numerous development projects and programmes.

BevilacquaTWAS Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (TWAS-ROLAC) has awarded the prize to Luiz Bevilacqua (TWAS Fellow, 2002), emeritus professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Graduate School of Engineering, Brazil. Bevilacqua was deeply involved, from 2004 to 2008, in the foundation of the Federal University of ABC (UFABC), Santo Andre, Sao Paulo, for which he has served successively as steering committee chairperson, vice rector in charge of implementing the academic programme and rector. In 1998, he served as chair of the committee that introduced the graduate studies programme at the National Laboratory for Scientific Computation (LNCC), the first in Brazil to focus on interdisciplinary projects. In 1992, he was a member of the international committee that launched the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI). Earlier in his career (1967), he was a member of the group that initiated the graduate schools of UFRJ, and launched the graduate civil engineering programme, of which he was the first chairman. Most recently, Bevilacqua has been invited to chair a committee at UFRJ to organize new interdisciplinary research initiatives. 

Atta ur RahmanTWAS Regional Office for Central and South Asia (TWAS-ROCASA) has awarded the prize to Atta-ur-Rahman (TWAS Fellow, 1985), coordinator-general, COMSTECH, and president, Network of Academies of Sciences in OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference) Countries (NASIC). As Pakistan's Federal Minister of Science and Technology (2000–02) and Advisor to the Prime Minister on S&T (2002–07), he was instrumental in making science and technology a national priority, which led to a 6,000% increase in the national budget for S&T, from 2001 to 2003. As Federal Minister of Education (2002) and Chairman of the Higher Education Commission (2002–08), he similarly oversaw a budget increase of 1,200% for higher education, from 2002 to 2004. Among the dozens of national projects he has launched are: a digital library providing nation-wide access to 20,000 journals, free of charge, to all academic and research institutions in Pakistan; establishing over a dozen new universities and degree-granting institutions; and establishing national commissions on biotechnology and nanotechnology. Raman also contributed to the development of the H.E.J. Research Institute of Chemistry, obtaining several important grants for the centre, which specializes in natural product chemistry and boasts the largest doctoral programme in Pakistan. 

Cheng-Wen WUTWAS Regional Office for East and South-East Asia and the Pacific (TWAS-ROESEAP) has awarded the prize to Cheng-Wen Wu, professor, National Yang-Ming University, and corresponding investigator, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, both in Taipei, Taiwan, China. Wu established two important biomedical research institutions in Taiwan – the Institute of Biomedical Sciences and the National Health Research Institutes (NHRI). He was the first director (1988–95) for the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, the largest research centre of the national Academia Sinica (established in 1928), with a staff of 900. The institute has active research programmes in cancer, neuroscience, cardiovascular disease and infectious diseases and public health. From 1996 to 2005, Wu served as the founding president of NHRI, a non-profit organization analogous to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), supported mainly by government funding.

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