Pakistani scientist Zabta Khan Shinwari winner of the UNESCO Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science

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© UNESCO / N. Houguenade

The winner of the 2015 UNESCO Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science is Pakistani Professor of Biotechnology and bioethicist, Zabta Khan Shinwari.

Professor Zabta Khan Shinwari was designated the laureate of the Prize by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, upon the recommendation of an independent International Jury of scholars and ethicists. The Jury stressed that Professor Shinwari could be a role model in the area of ethics of science because he combines an outstanding personal commitment to ethically responsible research and responsible science with high academic standards of scientific research, education and management.

The Prize, which includes a Diploma, a UNESCO Avicenna Gold Medal and a cheque of US$ 10,000, will be awarded at an official ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 30 September 2015. On this occasion, Professor Shinwari will deliver a keynote Avicenna lecture during a joint public meeting of two of UNESCO’s advisory scientific bodies - the World Commission on Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) and the International Bioethics Committee (IBC), both of which will be meeting in Paris for their annual sessions at the same time.

Professor Zabta Khan Shinwari is Secretary-General of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences, and Chair of the Biotechnology Department of the Quaid-i-Azam University of Islamabad. Specialist in Plant Sciences and Agricultural Biotechnology, Professor Shinwari has worked for the Pakistan Museum of Natural History, the National Agricultural Research Centre, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Pakistan, Kohat University of Science & Technology and several research organizations.

Throughout his scientific research and academic work, Professor Shinwari has worked tirelessly to develop educational programmes on the ethics of scientific knowledge, bioethics, applied ethnobotany, biosafety and biosecurity and introduce them in the university curricula throughout Pakistan at the post-graduate and under-graduate levels. The award of the UNESCO Avicenna Prize to Professor Shinwari recognizes his exceptional contribution to ethics of science that he has made through his deep engagement in research ethics education at the national and regional levels.

Established in 2002 by the Executive Board of UNESCO on the initiative of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the UNESCO Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science is awarded every two years. The purpose of the Prize is to reward the activities of individuals and groups in the field of ethics in science. The Prize encourages ethical reflection on questions raised by scientific and technological advances - a goal that coincides with UNESCO’s priorities. The Prize owes its name to the renowned 11th-century physician and philosopher of Persian origin known in Europe as Avicenna (980-1038), who developed a holistic approach towards an ethical behaviour of scientists, which continues to inspire the world of science today.