Saturday, April 28, 2012

Peace and the Advancement of Science : A Congress in Tehran

​The eleventh International Congress of Immunology and Allergy was held in Tehran at the Milad Tower Convention Center. The Iranian Association for Immunology and Allergy (IAIA)hosted this great event in which over 2 thousand students  and faculty members from Iran and more than 20 international scholars took part. Although it was the 11th time that the IAIA had convened this biennial event, this Congress was spectacular for its organization, scientific content, participation and venue. The Milad Tower is one of the unique touristic attractions in Tehran which harbors many cultural and social attractions. 
The opening session included a panel in which I was invited to speak about the Emerging Challenges of Immunology in the world and in Iran. 
I mentioned some of the  theoretical challenges of immunology as an exciting and rapidly advancing science . I spoke about some of the theorems that have drastically changed in the recent years, in areas such as proteomics and genomics . I also mentioned the interdisciplinary nature of the science as one of the leading biomedical fields in research.
After mentioning emerging topics in vaccines, cancer, autoimmunity and AIDs , I pointed to some of the advances and challenges we face in Iran.  I mentioned a Science Metrix report of 2010 that considers scientific growth of Iran based on ISI publications to be 11 times the global growth rate, thus amounting to the highest in the world. Budgetary constraints and the general morale of academia which has declined drastically after the disputed elections in 2009 are major impediments for advancement I noted. In conclusion I also made note of the fact that sanctions should not be directed against nations and should not target the academia. I ended my speech by stressing upon the need for just Peace as a prerequisite for sustainable development and scientific advancement in the world.

I invite you to visit the congress site at:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More of Paradise in Paradise

These are some more photos from the Tehran City Park, taken today with my cell phone camera. Hope you enjoy them !

Monday, April 9, 2012

Paradise in Paradise

Tehran's parks are beautiful in spring. The Tehran City Park is one of the older parks in Tehran. Yet it is of the most beautiful. These are some of the photos I took with my cellphone camera this morning on my way to the City Council which is  on Behesht (Paradise)  Avenue, adjacent to the park.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Awakened Conscience of Gunter Grass

European nations have a long history of legislation and political and social activism aimed at promotion of individual freedoms and human rights. This approach has been historically  overshadowed by the the advent of Nazism and the Holocaust, as well as the rise of Communism and more recently, ethnic strife and genocide in the Balkans. Certain trends have been intentionally politicized and utilized as a political weapon. While the crimes of the Holocaust are a historical fact, an exaggeration of the events was necessary as a pretext for the creation of a homeland for Jews, by the usurpation of land in Palestine. The crimes of the Holocaust became an issue which could not be contested or questioned . Branding the critiques  as "antisemitic"  became a means to silence any attempt to question the logic behind the creation of the zionist state.

The list of authors or poets who have been assailed  for criticizing zionism is on the rise.Gunter Grass is the latest. .He is the most popular German writer who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1999. Now, he is being victimized for a poem saying that Israel, not Iran, was the greatest threat to world peace. In the poem titled "What Must Be Said " published in Germany's Suddeutsche Zeitung and several othe European newspapers. Mr. Grass said he was tired of  Western Hypocrisy for calling an end to Iran's nuclear program while tolerating Israel's secretive nuclear program, which has been widely discussed but never officially confirmed. Mr. Grass has the courage to speak about a reality that many have now realized but do not dare to speak up. Zionism influences not only American politics but European and other policies throughout the world through its media, wealth, and political conglomerates. Zionism has taken the world to the verge of global war in many instances and now once again, Israel is spearheading a war against Iran for unjustified and irrational reasons.
May it be that the awakened conscience of the likes of Gunter Grass would stand up against this terrible trend that has taken the lives of thousands in wars instigated by the zionist Christian and neo-Con lobby in the US and their proxies in other parts of the world.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Natural Protected Areas of Iran

As the final days of the Nowruz vacation are nearing, we see preparations for the 13th of Farvardin or the first 13th day of the year, traditionally called " Sizdebedar". Iranians flock out of homes to take refuge in nature. It is considered now, as the Day of Nature.  Iran harbors a very diverse and beautiful natural environment. Although I had visited many areas of the country before my tenure as the Head of The Department of Environment, but those 8 years provided me with a unique opportunity to visit some of the extraordinary attractive feats of nature in Iran. The DOE is responsible for 4 types of protected areas in Iran. As I began work in 1997, we had 4.75 percent of the land devoted to protected areas, by 2005 when I left this figure had rose to 7.5%.  This amounts to  16 National Parks, over 93 Protected areas, 24 Natural Monuments and  several Wildlife Refuges.

The DOE has about 4000 armed rangers to protect this vast landscape, but considering the large amount of arms among people and nomads and overpopulation in some regions, this number of rangers does not suffice. During those years we embarked on projects to train, educate and upgrade the facilities that rangers posses; we also worked on empowering and educating local communities and NGOs to assist in local protection activities.

We promoted certain priority areas such as the protection of wetlands and forests. During those days, more than 10% of total forest area was ruled as protected areas and a "Sustainable Forest Management" strategy was approved in the Supreme Council of the Environment. The Supreme Council, headed by the President was an important tool for promotion of protected areas in the country. Unfortunately, the Council was downgraded and annulled by Mr. Ahmadinejad during his first year as President.
The diversity of desert, forest, wetland , sea, range land, mountains and bush land , in the intersection of Eurasian and Asian climates,  has created a unique biodiversity of fauna and flora which demonstrates scenery and services not available in  other  locations. Iran is also famous for its migratory birds and for this reason is the home of the Wetlands or Ramsar Convention.

During the final months of my tenure at the DOE, we prepared the first Atlas of Protected Areas in Iran which was published a year after. The Atlas is a unique feat of professionals and academics who have produced this collection of invaluable information on Iran.
I hope that we all learn to protect and cherish the blessings of God and the superb nature that has been gifted to us .