Former HEC chairman Professor Dr Atta ur Rehman has said that knowledge is key driver for socio-economic development of any country and our universities direly needed funding to contribute in development of Pakistan.

Dr Rehman, who now heads the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Technology Driven Knowledge Economy, was addressing the inaugural session of international conference on “Recent Innovations in Molecular Sciences” at Punjab University’s Faisal Auditorium.

PU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Niaz Ahmed, Faculty of Life Sciences Dean Prof Dr Firdous-e-Barin, School of Biological Sciences Director Prof Dr Waheed Akhter, Prof Dr James H. Naismith from UK, Prof Dr Paul A Gleeson from Australia, Prof Dr Zengyi Chang from China,  faculty members from the faculties of life sciences, sciences, pharmacy and health sciences, over 1,000 young scientist, researchers, prominent scientists from USA, UK, Australia, France, China, Iran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Russia as well as from all over Pakistan participated in the conference.

Addressing the conference, Prof Dr Atta ur Rehman said that the countries that had invested in education were making rapid progress in the world. He said that Pakistan had also made rapid progress in higher education sector in the past decade. He said that in 2018, Pakistan had defeated India in per capita research output and Pakistani researchers’ number of publications per 10 million individuals was 916 while Indian researchers’ was 708. He said that Nature publishing group on December 20, 2018 had ranked Pakistan number 1 among the countries with biggest rises in research output, leaving Egypt, Mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Brazil, Mexico and other countries far behind.  He said that according to Thomson Reuters in its report issued in 2016, Pakistan had emerged as the country with the highest percentage of Highly Cited Papers compared with Brazil, Russia, India and China. He said that Singapore was one of the best examples of the countries that progressed on the basis of knowledge economy. He said that Singapore was a country of around 5 million population only and had no natural resources. However, he said, Singapore had focused on human resource and high tech manufacturing and its exports had reached the volume of 330 billion dollars. He said that Pakistan’s 56 percent population was under 20 which was its biggest asset. He said that we must utilize this talent for development of science and technology in Pakistan.

Addressing the conference, Prof Niaz Ahmad said that PU administration was funding 112 research projects of teachers and students in life sciences faculty. He said that PU had also been declared No 1 in natural sciences research in Pakistan by Nature publishing. He said that 60 percent PU teachers were PhD. He said that development and innovation came from higher education sector.  He urged the students to develop new ideas and research projects for socio-economic development of Pakistan and PU would fund such projects.

Prof Dr Waheed Akhter said that renowned scientists, researchers and students belonging to life sciences, sciences, pharmacy and health sciences from various parts of the world and country were participating in the conference. He said that a broad theme for the conference was chosen in view of extensive connections in the processes and techniques used in plant, animal, health, pharmaceutical, environmental sciences and the applications. He said that in the recent past we had seen advances in understanding and regulating the processes of the living systems. He said that these had led to understanding of the underlying causes and finding cures for diseases like cancer. He said that various new strategies had potential to develop proteins which were not only of commercial value but also had great promise in the diagnosis and finding remedies for diseases like TB and cancer. He said that world leaders working in some of these areas were with us in the conference. He said that the conference program included 6 plenary talks, 30 invited lectures, 84 oral presentations and around 450 poster presentations. He said that the conference has provided provide a highly fruitful opportunity for the young scientists to interact with the world-renowned scientists. Later, PU VC Prof Niaz Ahmad presented PU’s Gold Medal to Prof Dr Atta ur Rehman acknowledging his services in order to pay tribute to him.

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