UNESCO announces winners of Carlos J. Finlay Prize in Microbiology

Khawaja Dawood/The Santiago Times Staff

ISLAMABAD – Pakistani professor Dr Shahida Hasnain and Bangladeshi professor Dr Samir Saha have won the prestigious UNESCO Prize for Microbiology.

Both the scientists have been named by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as the two laureates of the 2017 Carlos J. Finlay UNESCO Prize for Microbiology.

The prize money of $10,000 will be divided between the two laureates. This prestigious prize is awarded to scientists whose research has made an outstanding contribution to microbiology and its applications.

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The prize will be presented to them on 6th November during the 39th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, which will bring together the organization’s 195 member-states between 30 October and 14 November, a UNESCO statement said.

Dr Shahida Hasnain is the founder and Chairperson of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Punjab in Lahore, Pakistan. Her department is today recognized as a center of excellence both for its equipment and expertise.

Prof. Hasnain completed her doctorate from Birmingham University, United Kingdom in the field of Microbial and Molecular Genetics in 1985. Later she completed her post-doctorate studies from the same university in Molecular Biology in 1995. Dr Shahida Hasnain has published more than 250 articles in various national and international journals.

She has won several distinctions for her work including UNESCO/ROSTSCA Award for Young Scientist (from Central and South Asian region) in 1988, Fatima Jinnah Gold Medal in 2006 by Government of Punjab, Pakistan and Star Laureate 2007 in Science and Technology by South Asia Publications 2008.

Professor Hasnain significantly contributed to advances in research in environmental, agricultural and medical microbiology. She has notably worked on the heavy metal detoxification mechanisms, salt stress tolerance mechanisms, and bacterial morphogenesis, the UNESCO statement noted.

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Dr. Samir Saha is the head of the Microbiology Department of the Dhaka Shishu Hospital for children in Bangladesh. He is also the Executive Director of The Child Health Research Foundation at the Bangladesh Institute of Child Health.

As leading researcher in paediatrics, Dr Saha has played a significant role in the introduction of vaccines in Bangladesh. For more than a decade, he has been performing surveillance on invasive childhood diseases in Bangladesh. Dr Saha has published more than 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals, mostly exploring the topics of childhood pneumonia and meningitis.

Created in 1977 by UNESCO at the initiative of the Government of Cuba, the Carlos J. Finlay UNESCO Prize rewards scientists whose research has made an exceptional contribution to the field of microbiology.