Scientific & Technological Achievements of Iranians

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Compiled By: Firouzeh Mirrazavi
Deputy Editor of Iran Review

*The first successful hand transplant surgery in Middle East

Member of the 15th Khordad Hospital surgery team has successfully completed hand transplant surgery during 8.5 hours of breathtaking procedure.

Masoud Yavary in an interview with Pars health reporter said: “this transplant operation started 5:00 Am today, in ultra specialized ward of 15th Khordad Hospital and continued until just moments ago, and the surgery is almost complete, and has been successful.

He continued: “in this transplant operation, the wrist of a 25 years old young brain death person was transplanted to a 37 years old man who had lost his hand 6 years ago in an accident using meat grinder.”

The Deputy of Beheshti University of Medical Sciences added: “the transplant of hand operation for one’s own member have been done numerous time, and there are plenty of people who have lost their hands in an accident, and we have transplanted [hand] back to their own body in this hospital.”

“The importance of this unique operation is that for the first time in Iran, Middle East, and Eastern Mediterranean countries, we have used a hand from a brain dead person, and transplanted to another person.”

He added: “these hand transplants with all details and links to nerves, and the vessels have successfully been finished, and blood is running in the transplanted hand, but whether the man can move his transplanted hand or not? Time would tell, we need at least two weeks before we can tell.”

Yavary added: “measures including chemotherapy to prevent rejection after the transplant must be continued, but the transplant have been completely successful.”

*Iranian Inventor Wins Spanish Award 

The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has been granted in this fifth edition to electrical engineer Lotfi A. Zadeh, “for the invention and development of fuzzy logic”.

According to International Business Times, this ‘revolutionary’ breakthrough, affirms the jury in its citation, has enabled machines to work with imprecise concepts, in the same way humans do, and thus secure efficient results more aligned with reality.

In the last 50 years, this methodology has generated over 50,000 patents in Japan and the US alone.

On hearing of the award, Zadeh remarked that it meant a lot to him for several reasons: “First, because fuzzy logic has been somewhat controversial. Some people have greeted it with enthusiasm but others have been skeptical. It also has a special significance for me because I am a great admirer of Spain and the Spanish people.

“I’d therefore like to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to all those who were involved in my receiving this award, particularly Luis Magdalena and Enric Trillas of the European Center for Soft Computing in Mieres, who were among those putting forward my nomination.”

Lotfi A. Zadeh was born in 1921 in Baku, capital of the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, where his Iranian father was working as a journalist. When he was ten, the family moved to Tehran, Iran.

Zadeh graduated as an electrical engineer from the University of Tehran in 1942, one of only three students to do so amid the disruption created by the Second World War.

In 1943, he emigrated to the United States, where he took an MS in electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Six years later, he earned his PhD in the same subject at Columbia University (New York), where he would teach for the next ten years.

In 1959, he joined the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences in the University of California at Berkeley, where he has headed the Berkeley Initiative in Soft Computing since 1991. 

*Iran student’s seating design submitted to James Dyson Award*

Iranian-based engineering student Ali Reza Yaqoubi studying in Malaysia has submitted a radically redesigned plane seat to the James Dyson Award competition.

Yaqoubi’s concept of his design for ‘AirGo’ seating system is considered as a model of ergonomic airline super chairs.

‘AirGo’ seating system uses 16 percent more space than typical seats but increases the seat pitch to 41 inches that provides more legroom while reducing the impact of seat-back reclining.

In the new seating design bulky cushion seats have also been replaced with comfortable, thinner nylon mesh.

Passengers will be also granted individualized TV screens that come with each seat, said Yaqoubi, the undergraduate engineering student from University of Malaya.

“The idea for ‘AirGo’ was sparked in my brain after a series of uncomfortable eight-hour flights to visit my family in Iran,” he noted.

In typical flight experience in economy class, when a passenger in front of you reclines his seat, he is actually occupying one-third of the space you have paid for, Yaqoubi says.

“When a meal is being served and the passenger in front does not want to wake up, my tray table as part of his seat is located closer to my face than it should be,” he added.

“With ‘AirGo’, every passenger has a minimum personal space which cannot be occupied when other passengers recline their seat,” Yaqoubi explained.

James Dyson Award is an international student design award which is running in 18 countries and issues prizes to particularly innovative engineering students around the world.

*Iranian Among APS Outstanding Referees Program

Vahid Karimipour, professor of theoretical physics at Sharif University of Technology, is among APS Outstanding Referees Program in 2013.

The Outstanding Referee program was instituted in 2008 to recognize scientists who have been exceptionally helpful in assessing manuscripts for publication in the APS journals, Publish.aps reported.

By means of the program, APS expresses its appreciation to all referees, whose efforts in peer review not only keep the standards of the journals at a high level, but in many cases also help authors to improve the quality and readability of their articles--even those that are not published by APS.

The highly selective Outstanding Referee program annually recognizes about 150 of the roughly 60,000 currently active referees. At the start of the program, in 2008 and 2009, larger groups were selected by our Editors for the Outstanding Referee designation, in order to “catch up” and recognize referees who had already served for many years. Like Fellowship in the APS, this is a lifetime award. In this year, 2013, 142 Outstanding Referees were selected.

Our Editors select the honorees based on the quality, number, and timeliness of their reports, without regard for membership in the APS, country of origin, or field of research.

Referees are rewarded for their work carried out since 1978, the earliest year for which we have accurate data on referee reports returned.

Individuals with current or very recent direct connections to the journals, such as editors and editorial board members, are excluded. The decisions are difficult and there are many excellent referees who are still to be recognized.

The honorees come from over 49 different countries, with large contingents from the US, Germany, Canada, Spain, UK, and France. All listed in the table have been notified, offered the option of anonymity, and will receive a lapel pin and a certificate. Simple recognition ceremonies are held at some APS meetings.

The Outstanding Referees are to be congratulated and thanked for their outstanding service to the physics community.

*Iranian ophthalmologist awarded US National Medal

Twelve researchers and 11 innovators, among whom an Iranian ophthalmologist, were awarded the most prestigious US federal medal in science, technology, and innovation.

Twenty-three select individuals in science and innovation will officially receive the most prestigious science and tech medal in the US next year in the White House. Gholamali Peiman, a retina surgeon, has been awarded the medal in tech and innovation for his innovative method in eye surgery, LASIK.

40 years of experience in engineering, pharmacology, and extensive experience in ophthalmology have made revolutionary developments in eye surgery and treatments possible.

Since 1980, the National Medal of Technology and Innovation is awarded by the President of The United States to American innovators who make great contributions to the development of new and groundbreaking technology.

The medal is awarded to an individual, a group, or an entire organization or company. It is the most honorable award United States gives to a citizen for innovative developments.

*Iran ranks 17th in science production in 2012

The Islamic Republic of Iran ranked 17th in terms of science production in the world in 2012, according to the latest statistics released by the Scopus database.

According to the statistics, Iran produced 34,155 articles in 2012, which gained the country the world’s 17th rank in science production and fixed its top position in the region, above Turkey.

Abolfazl Rezaei, the head of the Iranian Health Ministry's Center for Information Development and Coordination and Scientific Publications, said Switzerland and Turkey stood after Iran at the 18th and 19th ranks with the production of 33,118 and 30,296 articles in 2012 respectively.

Rezaei added that Iran’s scientific progress over the past few years was the result of the country’s recent policies and programs to develop knowledge and facilitate researchers' access to the world’s top academic resources.

According to the statistics published in the journal Nature, Iran ranked first in scientific growth in the world in 2011.

In 2000, the Islamic Republic ranked 53rd in the world in terms of highly cited medical articles, but improved to the 23rd rank in 2011.

According to the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), Iranian researchers and scientists published a total of 60,979 scientific articles in major international journals from 1999 to 2008.

*American Mathematical Society honors Maryam Mirzakhani 

Iranian math scientist Maryam Mirzakhani has received the 2013 biennial Satter Prize in mathematics presented by American Mathematical Society.

The Satter Prize is dedicated to a woman to recognize and appreciate the winner’s mathematical accomplishments.

Born in 1977 in Tehran, Mirzakhani grew up in the Iranian capital and got her bachelor in math from the country’s prestigious university, Sharif University of Technology, in 1999, while later she received her master and PhD degrees from Harvard University in the United States.

“Thanks to my great teachers in Iran, both in high school and at Sharif University for providing a stimulating environment for their students,” she expressed at the award ceremony.

Mirzakhani is an alumna of Iran’s National Organization for Development of Exceptional Talents (NODET), who was crowned two gold international medals.

She won gold medals in both the International Mathematical Olympiad (Hong Kong 1994) in which she scored 41 out of 42 points, and in the International Mathematical Olympiad (Canada 1995) with a perfect score of 42 out of 42 points, ranking her 1st jointly with 14 other participants.

She became full professor of Mathematics at the age of 31 in 2008 at Stanford University where she is currently working.

Her research interests mainly include hyperbolic geometry,Teichmüller theory, ergodic theory, and symplectic geometry.

*Iranian researchers take giant leap forward prostate and lung cancer treatment 

Researchers in Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Unit, have developed a method for prostate and lung cancer treatment through combining nuclear, radio-isotope and nano-technology.

 Mohammed Reza Khosrawi Bakht, Master of Medical Radiology, told Mehr News that the method has combined nuclear and nano-technology. "Beta emitting radioactive isotopeshas have found applications in cancer treatment including interferometry as promising method in fighting malignant tumors," he added.

"Combining nuclear and nano-technologies is the main feature of the project. A research project, 'Examination and Development of Praseodymium 142', was defined and carried out," he said.

Khosrawi Bakht provided comments on characteristics of praseodymium 142 isotopes. "These isotopes radiate beta particles, which penetrate few millimeters deep into the body tissues and attack malignant tissues by radiation," he said.

The Project Manager also commented on the method's advantages as having less side-effect compared to other treatments. "Our findings indicated that due to less exposure of healthy tissues to radiation, beta-emitting isotopes have less side-effects compared to other isotopes," he added.

Khosrawi also said that the Project has facilitated isotopes medical applications and added that isotopes were applied to interferometry of prostate and nanoparticles were applied to the treatment of lung cancer.

"Radio-isotopes are planted in prostate and kill cancer cells by beta-emission," he said.

*Iranian researchers make artificial skin using human hair waste

Researchers in the Islamic Azad University, Science and Research branch have extracted protein from human hair waste to make a scaffold for artificial skin development.

Maryam Haj Maleki, the project manager pointed to one of the benefits of the nano-fiber scaffolds for human body as their compatibility and added that human hair waste has been made of an insolvent protein, ‘hard creatine-alpha’ which make powerful cross-links with each other via disulphide bonds, ending in the creation of hard and insoluble organs.

She pointed to the extraction of protein from human hair waste and said that for developing anti-bacterial nano-composite fibers a research project was conducted in which researchers tried to provide the needed protein from human hair waste.

Haj Maleki cited the research objective as ‘optimal use of easy-to-find and cheap raw material’ and suggested that accordingly, protein was extracted from human hair waste and made into nano-composite scaffold.

The project manager said that hair waste is a rich source of the creatine-alpha protein and added “the use of this material is economic and it is expected that the material find applications in medical operations, especially the development of artificial skin and dressing for lesions.”

“Results of the anti-bacterial test indicate that with the increase in protein density in the scaffolds, the antibacterial feature grows stronger,” added she, talking about test results.

Haj Maleki attributed this to the cell toxicity and its compatibility with human body, adding that the scaffolds could be used for the production of dressings for wounds or artificial skin.

*Iranians Shine In Int’l Collegiate Contest

Sharif University of Technology and University of Tehran participated in the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) in Russia.

Qualifiers took part in the 14th West Asian Regional Collegiate Programming Contest held on Dec. 20 and 21, 2012, in Sharif University of Technology, where 83 teams from 48 universities participated.

Hamid Zarrabi-Zadeh, executive manager of the contest, also told Mehr News Agency, announced that the students of Sharif University of Technology won the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th ranks in the contest.

Tehran and Amirkabir universities ranked 4th and 6th, respectively.

“Two Iranian teams will participate in the 37th Annual World Finals of the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (2013), which will take place on June 30-July 4 in Saint Petersburg, Russia,” Zarrabi-Zadeh said.

ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (abbreviated as ACM-ICPC or just ICPC) is an annual multi-tiered competitive programming competition among the universities of the world.

*Iran’s Sharif University placed among world’s 350 best universities

Iran’s Sharif University of Technology has been placed among the world’s 350 best universities in 2012, according to the rankings recently published by the Times Higher Education magazine.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2012-2013, powered by Thomson Reuters, are the only global university performance tables to judge world class universities across all of their core missions - teaching, research, knowledge transfer, and international outlook.

The top universities rankings employ 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons available, which are trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry, and governments.

The highest-ranking Asian university is the University of Tokyo, in 27th place.

The top twenty universities in the rankings are listed below:

1) California Institute of Technology, United States
2) Stanford University, United States
3) University of Oxford, United Kingdom
4) Harvard University, United States
5) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States
6) Princeton University, United States
7) University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
8) Imperial College London, United Kingdom
9) University of California, Berkeley, United States
10) University of Chicago, United States
11) Yale University, United States
12) ETH Zürich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich, Switzerland
13) University of California, Los Angeles, United States
14) Columbia University, United States
15) University of Pennsylvania, United States
16) Johns Hopkins University, United States
17) University College London, United Kingdom
18) Cornell University, United States
19) Northwestern University, United States
20) University of Michigan, United States

*Iran Develops Effective Cancer Treatment

Researchers of Islamic Azad University’s Science and Research Unit have developed a method for prostate and lung cancer treatment by combining nuclear, radio-isotope and nanotechnology.

Mohammed Reza Khosravi-Bakht, an expert on medical radiology and project mnager, told Mehr News Agency that beta emitting radioactive isotopes have found applications in cancer treatment, including interferometry, as a promising method for fighting malignant tumors.

“The combination of nuclear and nanotechnologies is the main feature of the project. A research project titled “Examination and Development of Praseodymium 142” was defined and carried out,” he said.

Khosravi-Bakht said the praseodymium 142 isotopes radiate beta particles, which penetrate few millimeters deep into the body tissues and attack malignant tissues.

The project manager also commented on the method’s advantages as having less side-effects compared to other modes of treatment.
“Our findings indicated that due to less exposure of healthy tissues to radiation, beta-emitting isotopes have less side-effects compared to other isotopes,” he said.

Khosravi-Bakht noted that the project has facilitated isotopes’ medical applications and added that isotopes were applied to interferometry of prostate and nanoparticles were applied to the treatment of lung cancer.

“Radioisotopes are planted in prostate and kill cancer cells by beta-emission,” he said.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and the second leading killer of men, behind lung cancer. Prostate cancer is generally very slow growing and most men die with prostate cancer (meaning that they die of some other cause) rather than from it. Still, it kills approximately 30,000 men each year. But detected early, it can be cured.

*Iranian scientists use microchips to help spinally impaired walk 

Scientists at the Neural Technology Center of the University of Science and Technology of Iran made standing and walking possible for patients with impaired spinal cord by producing a microcomputer.

Dr. Abbas Erfanian, executive manager of the project, pointing to the design and production of neural prostheses as one of the center's research projects, said in an interview with MNA: in this regard we initiated the design and production of neural prosthesis named Parawalk which is used for the spinally impaired to stand and walk.

This system is a portable microcomputer with microchip which does the job of the motor cortex of human brain in the initiation and controlling of movements for the disabled, and contracts the muscles by sending electrical signals to the motoneurons, creating and controlling motor movements in the paralyzed limb, he further explained.

Executive manager of the project further stated: the Parawalk system controls the range of the paralyzed muscles' contraction throughout the movement using mathematical patterns of skeleto-muscular systems and control strategies.

Pointing to the conditions of the patients using this system he mentioned: patients with impairments in the waist area ranging in severity from T4 to T12 can enjoy the system.

*Nima Rezaei nominated for Intl. Young Researcher Award

Iranian researcher Dr. Nima Rezaei has been nominated for the 2013 International Young Researcher Award of American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

The Deputy President of Research Center for Immunodeficiencies of Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Dr. Rezaei was selected along with three other candidates from Switzerland, Taiwan, and Brazil.

The nominees are selected by the academy’s board for the purpose of recognition of special researches carried out by non-American researchers around the world.

Rezaei who is also the Chief Executive Director of the Children’s Medical Center Hospital in Tehran, has got many remarkable researches and innovations in the field of immunology.

His paper published in JACI (IF>11) has gained international acclaim while attracted 20 citations only in 18 months.

He has been also selected as a member of committee for policy making in immunodeficiency the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology for the second consecutive year.

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology will announce this year’s winner at the opening ceremony of its meeting in Texas next month.

*2 Iranians Join List of Top Scientists

Dr. Shokoufeh Nikfar from Food and Drug Organization of Iran’s Health Ministry and Dr. Fereydoun Azizi from Shahid Beheshti Medical University have been placed in the list of the world’s top scientists in medical sciences, joining nine other colleagues from Iran.

Nikoufar is a graduate of pharmacology and toxicology, while Azizi has studied biology and biochemistry, Fars News Agency reported.

“To join the list of the world’s top 1 percent scientists in any field, the number of references to that given person’s published papers and articles in the scientific database of ‘Web of Science’ should amount to a specific number depending on the criterion defined for each field of science,” Iranian Deputy Health Minister for Research and Technology Mostafa Qanei announced.

Qanei further noted that those included in the list are then ranked in 21 scientific majors and in all scientific fields.

“The number of (Iranian) medical universities’ top 1 percent scientists was 3 in 2011 and 9 in 2012. And now in 2013, the number has grown to 11,” he said.

Iran has taken wide strides in science and technology, particularly in medical and medicinal fields, in recent years.

In relevant remarks in August, Iranian Health Minister Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi boasted the country’s astonishing progress in producing medical tools, equipment and drugs, and said Iran stands 12th in the world ranking of biomedicine production.

“Iran ranks 1st in the region, 4th in Asia and 12th in the world in producing biological drugs,” Dastjerdi said in a ceremony in Tehran while unveiling eight hi-tech medicines used for treating various kinds of diseases.