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Prof. Ahmed Abdullah Azad

(Expatriate Fellow, )

Bangladesh (BD)
Bangladesh (BD)

Professor Ahmed Abdullah Azad, a citizen of Bangladesh and Australia, was born on November 17, 1945, He obtained a First Class in both his BSc (Hons) and MSc in Biochemistry from Dhaka University (DU), and was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for securing Rank 1 (1968). He was awarded a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship to study for a PhD in Molecular Biology at the University of Toronto (1970-73). After further postdoctoral research on a Canadian MRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, he took up an academic position (Nov 1975) at the Research School of Biological Sciences at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. His research in Toronto and ANU honed his expertise in the nascent recombinant DNA technologies, and led to a clear understanding of the role of ribosomal RNAs, and the molecular mechanisms involved, in the reversible association of ribosomal subunits during protein synthesis.

In 1980 Dr Azad joined the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Division of Protein Chemistry (later renamed Biotechnology and then Biomolecular Engineering) in Melbourne as a Senior Research Scientist, rose rapidly through the ranks, was promoted to Chief Research Scientist in 1990 and appointed Head of Molecular Virology and the Laboratory for Production of High-Value Recombinant Proteins. Simultaneously he held the position of Foundation Head of the Virus Drug Discovery Program at the Biomolecular Research Institute in Melbourne. Among his many discoveries and achievements during his time at CSIRO, three deserve mention. The first was the cloning and sequencing of the Influenza virus Neuraminidase, which helped in its 3D structure determination, and the structure-based design and development of the specific inhibitor drug Relenza. The second major research undertaken by Dr Azad and his research team was the molecular characterization and identification of the elusive host protective immunogen of the highly immunosuppressive virus IBDV, and the successful production and commercialisation of a recombinant subunit vaccine against IBDV, for which he was awarded the highly prestigious CSIRO Chairman’s Gold Medal and Prize for Exceptional Achievement. The third major research project was to understand the molecular basis of HIV/AIDS pathogenesis. Dr Azad and his research team conclusively showed that HIV accessory Nef and Vpr are directly involved in HIV pathogenesis and developed candidate drugs that arrest progression to AIDS.

Dr Azad’s research has resulted in over 130 publications in peer-reviewed international journals, ten patents, over 50 invited lectures at international conferences, several book chapters, and over 200 conference presentations. He has been elected a Fellow of TWAS (The World Academy of Sciences), IAS (Islamic-World Academy of Sciences), BAS, ASSAf (Academy of Science of South Africa) and RSSA (Royal Society of South Africa). He is the current Secretary General of IAS. He served three terms as a Member of the Council of Scientific Advisors of ICGEB (International Centre of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology) in Trieste (Italy). This provided the opportunity to transfer technology from ICGEB to Incepta Biotech and the production of valuable Biosimilars in Bangladesh.

In January 2000 he joined the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa as the Foundation Director of Research and Professor of Medical Biotechnology in the Faculty of Health Sciences. He also played a critical role in the establishment of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine at UCT, and served as a Board Member of the Medical Research Council of South Africa, as Scientific Advisor of CAPRISA (network of South African AIDS Researchers) and as Research Advisor to USHEPiA (network of eight universities in Sub-Saharan Africa).

Since retiring in 2007 Dr Azad has devoted his time (pro bono) to research capacity development in molecular biosciences in Bangladesh, and organised four international conferences in Bangladesh. These activities have been carried out with the support of younger colleagues, from TWAS, ICGEB, Incepta (Bangladesh), IAS, BRAC University, DU, Bangladesh University of Health Sciences, and BAS. He is also a founding life member of GNOBB and CARES Bangladesh.

Address: aaazad1945@gmail.com

Bangladesh (BD)
Last updated on 30/11/2023