Prestigious Award is sweet success for Dr Abdel Rahman - MIDAS

Prestigious Award is sweet success for Dr Abdel Rahman

14 March, 2008 – Prestigious Award is sweet success for Dr Abdel Rahman

Manchester Science Park (msp) tenant, Dr. Layla Zakaria Abdel Rahman, has won a prestigious award and $50,000 prize from The Arab Thought Foundation for her scientific discovery that saved the world-wide sugar cane industry millions.

Dr. Abdel Rahman of Agri-Biotech, which has been based at msp since 1998, discovered a radical new way of producing sugar cane. Traditional methods of growing sugar cane from cuttings are both costly and wasteful, and the plant is difficult to grow from seed. For years, scientists funded by the sugar cane industry had been trying, without success, to identify a solution that would increase crop yield before Dr. Abdel Rahman succeeded.

Throughout her career, experts predicted that her research would never amount to anything but Dr. Abdel Rahman persisted and proved them wrong. She discovered a new method that allowed the plant to be sown, just like cereal crops, making it more productive and cheaper. The method involves taking cells from the leaves, shoots or roots of the plant and growing them in a liquid culture to produce artificial seeds, which can then be germinated.

The Arab Thought Foundation, headed by HRH Prince Khalid Al Faysal, is a partnership between the business and academic communities to promote all domains of knowledge. The Foundation gave Dr. Abdel Rahman the award based on the scientific and economic importance of the work and its subsequent impact on the sugar cane industry. They also felt that this was a breakthrough invention in the field of agriculture as the technique can be adapted for other economically important crops like date palm.

The invention is protected by a patent in Australia, USA, Russia, Europe (UK, France and Germeny), China and Indonesia. Dr. Abdel Rahman said: "Winning the award is a great achievement. It is recognition for the hard work and the useful result for the whole of mankind.

"It has been very useful. I would like to thank msp, and especially Jane Davies as a chief executive with a vision; she has been very supportive."

Dr Abdel Rahman was recently granted a second patent in the USA for an invention of an effective anti-oxidant that has the potential to help in the field of medicine and the cosmetics and oil industries.

Her startling results have earned global recognition and the US sugar cane industry tried to tempt Dr. Layla to move her research base across the Atlantic. However, she is staying firmly put at Manchester Science Park.

Jane Davies, chief executive of Manchester Science Park, said: "Dr. Layla’s story is remarkable and we are pleased to have been able to support her through the research. Her startling results are testament to her dedication and extra-ordinary skills.

"At msp we aim to nurture and promote this kind of activity by providing an environment that allows people to focus their energy on research."

msp, which provides accommodation and business support for technology-based companies, is an internationally recognised centre of excellence and was named the UK Science Park Association’s Outstanding member Park in 2007. Spread across three locations in Manchester, msp is home to over 790 companies and manages more than 300,000 sq ft of office and lab space.

Source: Manchester Science Park Ltd press release


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