Thursday, May 22, 2014

Biodiversity Day

International Biodiversity Day was commemorated yesterday at the DOE Convention Center, in Tehran.We had invited major film producers and artists to appreciate their efforts to enhance public awareness on environmental 
 I spoke about the intrinsic value of the biological diversity that the earth harbors and how this diversity is diminishing. I also noted how important the services this diversity provides and as an example I mentioned the role of bees in pollination of over 60% of our agricultural products. Bee population and species worldwide have been seriously endangered by pesticides use and their products contaminated by toxic chemicals.
We need to educate people on the importance of the protection of our biodiversity for the well being of our people.We our proud that many celebrities have joined us in this campaign to save our natural flora and fauna.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Twelfth Congress of immunology

The Iranian Association for Immunology and Allergy is one of the many scientific associations active in Iran. They had elected me last year as the President of their twelfth Congress.The Congress was held last week at the Milad tower in Tehran. In addition to over 1800 articles submitted to the Congress,
we had over 2000 participants, 40 workshop sessions, dozens of panels and an exhibition for  knowledge based corporations in this field.We also had over 30 international guests, all distinguished Professors of Immunology, including Rolf Zinkernagel, the Medicine Nobel prize laureate of 1996. 
I spoke at the opening ceremony stressing upon the fact that we believe that knowledge has no  boundaries and that it belongs to all humanity, then we should all strive to remove barriers and restrictions set for certain nations. Also, I noted that this great Congress shows how Iranian scientists contribute to this global wealth.This congress is being held when Tehran is experiencing better air quality due to in part, improvement in the quality of petroleum  I said and proposed that an interdisciplinary field of environmental immunology be followed more seriously. I was also honored to invite our Nobel laureate guest to the podium for his speech. Zinkernagel who had discovered the mechanism by which T cells confront viral infections, was now questioning some of the basic dogmas of immunlogy including memory.
The Congress convened all its sessions with high attendence and during the closing ceremony the head of the International Union of Immunological Associations Seppo Morino, noted in his speech that he had attended many Congresses but that he believed this was one of the best in terms of organization, scientific content and attendance.  Our Iranian colleagues had done a great job! 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Prospects for Moderation

Now that eight months have elapsed from the instalment of the government of Dr. Rouhani, it has become more clear how moderation is translated into policy at national and external levels. Serious measures have been taken to improve economic conditions,curb inflation and fluctuating exchange rates, enable a gradual revision of current subsides policy,  and support for employment generation schemes .On social and political dimensions more lawfulness,respect for citizen's rights and freedoms, a resolution of the political stalemate after the 2009 disputed elections ,inclusion of diverse political tendencies in social processes and more support for NGOs,free press, arts and cinema.Dr. Rouhani has faced tremendous pressures and  numerous hurdles in this path. In addition, the government has clearly dealt with environmental issues and the recent improvement in fuel quality and air pollution is an important step in that direction. Resolution of the nuclear issue and improvement of relations with the world have also been pursued in the context of moderation policies. These developments have faced fierce confrontation by radical elements and supporters of the previous government.

The fact that many countries have welcomed this change in policy has  angered radical groups and caused them to react. The firm resolution of the government to pursue the policies of moderation is now evident.

In the Department of Environment we have embarked on a major strategy of "environmental diplomacy" during these months and we have recieved positive feedback in some areas. I met with a group of French Senators last week. We talked about environmental challenges but also ways to improve relations. Since I spoke a few minutes in French, Senator Marini told me they were pleased to meet a Francophone in the Cabinet of Dr. Rouhani.