Muslim Women Scientists and Biology

Written by Saman Ansari

Following tradition of Mariam Al-Ijliya (Al-Astrolabiya) Muslim women take pride in studying science and making new contributions in it. This is giving birth to a new era of science and technology in the Muslim World especially in the field of Biology. Among famous names like Dr. Hayat Sindi, Dr. Sania Nishtar and Dr. Hina Chaudary there are also others like Dr. Rabia Hussain, Dr. Bina Shaheen Siddiqui, Dr.Khatijah Mohammad Yusoff and Dr Adeeba Kamar-ul-Zaman. These women are not that prominent internationally but have made noteworthy contributions in Biology.

Dr. Rabia Hussain

Dr. Rabia Hussain, born and bred in Pakistan is Ph.D. in Immunology and is a distinguished national professor and a renowned scientist in the country. She is famous for her research in immunology of infectious diseases specifically Allergens (any substance that causes allergy) and has been carrying out research since 1972. She has also served in Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center and contributed towards eliminating Leprosy in Pakistan.

She is also a winner of many international and national awards some of which are; National Research Council Associate ship award, The Berson-Yalow Award for developing radioimmunoassay techniques, Tamgha-e-Imtiaz National award (twice) for research and education in medicine and she was also awarded The Abdus Salam Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) Award in Basic Medical Sciences. She has currently around 113 publications to her name and has authored 3 book chapters.

Dr. Bina Shaheen Siqqiqui

Dr. Bina Siddiqui is an acclaimed Pakistani scientist with many achievements. Dr. Siddiqui has made significant contributions to medicine and agriculture through her study and classification of indigenous plant materials.

She has been awarded 12 patents for anti-cancer constituents and biopesticides and has written more than 250 research articles. Pakistan Academy of Sciences elected her as a Fellow. She has to her credit the co-founding of the Third World Organization for Women in Science.

Her area of research also includes discovery of new molecules important in medicine and agriculture and preparation of bioactive molecules among many other topics. Due to her renowned research even children studying in small village schools want to grow up to be a ‘cancer doctor’.


Prof. Khatijah Mohammad Yusoff

Another famous Muslim scientist is Prof. Khatijah M. Yousoff. Professor Khadija is Malaysian and was born on 12 July 1956 in the city of Penang. After receiving her early education there, she won a Colombo Plan Scholarship to La Trobe University, Australia for her tertiary education where she graduated with a degree in Microbiology in 1979. Since then she has never looked back. Her current research is on the development of novel therapeutic and diagnostic reagents from NDV (Newcastle Disease Virus causes  a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting most species of birds).

She has over 100 publications in refereed journals and well over 290 papers in proceedings and abstracts. In addition, she has filed several patents and trademarks, and currently holds a US patent. Some of her work includes the developing of RT-PCR-ELISA test, a technique that helped her in her research.

She is also active in several local and international professional societies. She is one of the founding members of the Malaysian Society for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, and is also active in many other Malaysian Biology Societies. She has served as a member of several Editorial Boards and as a member of the panel of reviewers for several journals. She was formerly the Chief Editor for the Asia-Pacific Journal for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. May she be blessed with more success!!

Dr Adeeba Kamar-ul-Zaman

Dr. Adeeba Kamar-ul-Zaman is another Malaysian scientist who has dedicated her career to the prevention, treatment and research of infectious diseases and HIV/AIDS. She is also a strong advocate for HIV prevention, treatment and care programs in marginalized communities.

Her passion began at Monash where she studied Medicine, and then went on to train in Infectious Diseases in Melbourne. Upon returning to her homeland, she established one of the first Infectious Diseases Units in the country which has become a leading consultation centre for infectious diseases and HIV/AIDS.

Also among her achievements is the establishment of the Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS (CERiA) at the University of Malaya in 2007. CERiA is known to be one of the few dedicated HIV research centers in the region. She also works hard to train and produce world class healthcare practitioners and medical researchers including doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

In addition she has also been involved in the community response to the HIV epidemic. As President of the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) she successfully advocates HIV related cases. In 2012, she was recognized for her meaningful achievements with an Advance Global Alumni Award.



About the author

Saman Ansari

Saman is the founder of the first biology centric platform in Pakistan. She loves to digitalize science by writing and illustrating. She holds a masters degree in Virology and is interested in emerging viruses, vaccines and science magazines.