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2006 UNESCO Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science
Sameen Ahmad Khan

Dr. ‘Abdullah S. Dar of Oman was presented the UNESCO Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science on 14 April 2006, by the UNESCO Director General Koïchiro Matsuura at the UNESCO Headquarters, in the presence of Muhammad Mehdi Zahedi, the Iranian Minister of Science, Research and Technology. The UNESCO Avicenna Prize for Ethics and Science is a way for the Organization to recognize and reward the research and contributions of individuals and groups in this field and help the role of ethics in science to achieve greater prominence.

Dr Dar is from the Sultanate of Oman and previously held the Chair of Surgery at the Sultan Qaboos University, Oman. He is currently Professor of Public Health Sciences and of Surgery at the University of Toronto, where he is also Director of the Program in Applied Ethics and Biotechnology and Co-Director of the Canadian Program on Genomics and Global Health at the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics, and Director of Ethics and Policy at the McLaughlin Centre for Molecular Medicine. His significant contribution to research in the ethics of science and technology does not only cover a wide range of topics, but engages in depth with issues at the crossing point of science and ethics, technology and society. The impressive breadth of his numerous publications in the area of biomedical ethics is evident from the scope of themes that he covers, ranging from more traditional issues such as living donor transplantation to newer concerns such as the use of stem cells, genomics and xenotransplantation (transplants from animals to humans!).

The prize owes its name to the renowned 11th-century physician and philosopher of medieval Islam Abu ‘Ali al-Husayn Ibn ‘Abdullah Ibn Sina (980-1038 CE, known by the Latin name, Avicenna). A healer and a humanist, Avicenna developed an exemplary holistic approach that captures the essence of ethics in science and has thus come to serve as a source of inspiration for the promotion of this concern, which is of central importance in current times. The Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science was established following the decision by UNESCO’s Executive board at its 166th session in 2004. The Islamic Republic of Iran played a crucial role in the creation of the prize. This prize is intended to reward the activities of groups and individuals in the field of ethics of science. The prize consists of a gold medal of Avicenna along with a certificate, the sum of ten thousand US$, and a one-week academic visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is to include the delivery of speeches in the relevant academic gatherings, organized for this purpose by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The first Avicenna Prize was awarded on 26 April 2004 to Professor Margaret Somerville, Director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Through her books, conferences and other work, Professor Somerville has made an important contribution to the global development of bioethics, and to the ethical and legal aspects of medicine and science.


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