Virtual University Of Pakistan Network
Biomedical engineer and faculty member of the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute Dr Naweed Syed is the first scientist to successfully connect a silicon chip to the human brain. The silicon chip, which was created in 2004, has lead to a variety of biomedical breakthroughs, including reversing memory loss and helping amputees to control their artificial limbs.
Dr Syed Amjad Hussein of Peshawar was the first to invent the pleuroperitoneal shunt, a surgically implanted catheter used to treat pleural effusions in cancer patients. Once implanted, the catheter delivers fluid, which has built up between the pleura lining (tissue) and the lungs, to the peritoneal cavity where it can be absorbed. Once this treatment has been administered patients are usually able to breathe much more easily. Following his invention, Dr Syed Amjad Hussein was inducted into the Medical Mission Hall Of Fame.
Created by Ayub K. Ommaya, a Pakistani neurosurgeon in 1963, the Ommaya Reservoir allows chemicals to be injected into the brain, via a catheter, to treat brain tumors, leukemia and leptomeningeal disease.
In 1990, Mahbub-ul-Haq revolutionised economics with the creation of The Human Development Index. According to Mahbub-ul-Haq, the sole purpose of the index was “to shift the focus of development economics from national income accounting to people centered policies.” That is, the HDI focuses on the health, education and living standards of areas to measure development, not on the amount of income.
Whilst working with Steven Weinberg, the first Pakistani Nobel Prize winner Professor Abdus Salam predicted the existence of the Higgs Boson subatomic particle.
As far as dangerous energy sources go, nuclear power has to be one of, if not the most dangerous of all. Since it’s creation, nuclear power has created multiple disasters around the globe, causing many deaths and toxic environments. In an attempt to counteract this problem, Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood created the SMB Probe which is thought to reduce the chance of a nuclear disaster by a significant amount. The SMB Probe’s job is to keep power plant operations under control and check whether there are any heavy water leakages, thereby reducing the possibility of accidents.
In January 1986, the Farooq Alvi brothers invented the world’s first virus for MS-DOS. Born in Lahore, the brothers created ( c) Brain , a virus that infiltrates the boot sector of storage media and is still used widely today to prevent hacking and identify piracy.
Rehan Aziz Farooqi, an engineer from Swat, invented a generator that can not only run on water, but can also allow any engine – whether it’s diesel, gas or petrol – to run on water as well. The generator works by separating the hydrogen and oxygen found in water and converting them into viable energy source. As hydrogen is extremely explosive however, the generator’s inventor wants to ensure there are no dangers before making it available to the public.
For many third-world countries, the risk of contracting deadly diseases due to poor sanitation is a huge problem. In an attempt to lower these risks, Professor of Sustainable Infrastructure at Loughborough University Sohail Khan invented a lavatory that transforms human waste into minerals that can be used to enrich soil. The facility also processes water to ensure it is clean and consumable.
Shahzaib Hussain, a seventeen-year-old from Quetta, created a device that can be used to reproduce electricity when he was only in Grade 11. The device was first proven to work when Shahzaib managed to light 44 LED lights that would usually require 3 Watts with only 1.5 Watts that were fed through his machine. The device is currently still in it’s prototype stage, but could lead to huge developments in the near future.
At Startup Cup Pakistan last year, a startup named Go-Fig Solutions dominated the media’s attention. Go-Fig Solutions had created an algorithm that claimed to be able to predict where the next terrorist attack would occur, simply based off of behavioural patterns and data mining. After the algorithm received a success rate of 35%, Go-Fig Solutions won the World Startup Cup.
Pakistani firm Fatima Fertilizers has invented a formula for fertilizers that do not contain ammonium nitrate, thus cannot be used to create bombs. Since it’s creation, the fertilizer has been praised by the Pentagon, with US Army Lieutenant General Michael Barbero, the head of the Pentagon’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization stating: ‘such a long-term solution would be a true scientific breakthrough.’
Whilst working at the Sanjan Nagar Institute, Lahore in 1970, Raza Aslam created the Sagar Veena, a string instrument capable of registering a range of pitches that no other instrument can achieve. Although there are already a variety of string instruments used in North Indian Classical Music, the Sagar Veena is unique in its ability to provide a rich array of notes.
A Pakistani biomedical engineer and professor has been elected as a fellow of the prestigious American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE)’s College of Fellows.
Muhammad Hamid Zaman is a director of laboratory of Engineering Education and Development, an Innovative Engineering Education Faculty Fellow, and associate professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University.
A leading American science magazine listed PharmaCheck, a technology introduced by Zaman in 2013, as one of the top ten ‘World Changing Ideas’. It allows the test of quality and potency of a drug in a few minutes.
“It is an honour. I feel blessed to be part of the AIMBE College of Fellows,” said Zaman in an interview with The Express Tribune.
The focus of his research has been two fold: developing new tools to understand the growth of tumors which will help fight the disease; and developing new technologies to address public health challenges in developing countries.
He is trying to promote PharmaCheck in developing nations to help address issues of substandard medicines.
He practices and teaches in the US but issues facing Pakistan, especially in the field of medicines, are close to his heart.
Zaman says substandard drugs and pharmaceutical companies are a major concern in Pakistan. In November 2013, he offered the technology to help address the issue but received a cold response from the government and the industry here.
“Sadly, health is not the priority of the state. Besides, with devolution of the health ministry and lack of interest from federal and provincial governments, little progress has been made in health care,” he said.
He added barcodes or other identification methods being used on medicines are not enough. “You cannot rely only on barcodes and boxes. You have to test the actual pill or syrup.”
He cited the 2012 example of Punjab Institute of Cardiology incident where 165 people died after consuming spurious drugs. “Other disasters like this can happen,” he feared.
“We are not doing enough testing before or after the drug comes to the market,” he said, and suggested understanding of the problem, policy making and innovation to ensure drug quality. “So far, there is no interest in any of these areas, which is both sad and very frightening,” he remarked.
He says the challenges of biomedical engineering in Pakistan are not impossible to tackle. “Firstly, people have no idea what the field really is. Most think this has to do with hospital equipment and medical technology. These things are a minor part of the field. It encompasses a lot more than just medical technology.”
“Secondly, problem comes from the gulf that exists between the country’s medical professionals and engineers. Every time I talk to biomedical engineers in Pakistan, they hardly spend any time with doctors or clinicians, who in turn are equally unaware or unwilling to work with engineers.”
He added that in many parts of the world, doctors and engineers sit side by side to solve these complex problems. “Until this happens, no impact could be made,” he stated.
Talking about the final point, the medical expert said “Finally, Pakistan needs to own its problems and work to solve them. There is also a substantial gap between industry and research. Industry is not interested in research and development in biomedical engineering while students and scholars are also not reaching out to the industry.”
Zaman is also unimpressed with the state’s lack of interest in these issues. “There is simply no real interest or priority. We go from one crisis to another and never think beyond those in terms of creating a long-term system to cope with these problems,” he said.
To a question about lessons from the American health sector which can be applicable in Pakistan, he said the most relevant one is to engage higher education and research sector in national development. “In the US, the university research is the backbone of innovation and growth. Somehow, we have written that off completely in Pakistan. Second, there is a gulf of suspicion between the universities and the health sector which needs to be bridged,” Zaman said.
He called upon biomedical professionals to come out of their comfort zone and think out of the box to solve the country’s most pressing health problems. “Our problems need our solutions. We can find solutions if we try hard,” he concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2015.
Software to type in 40 languages prepared
CHITRAL: In pursuit of his passion for linguistics, Rehmat Aziz Khan Chitrali, the man behind the first-ever virtual Khowar language keyboard, has achieved yet another remarkable feat — a software that allows typing in some 40 local languages.
The 44-year-old is an eminent poet, writer, linguist and researcher renowned not just in his native Chitral district but across the country for his immense work for the promotion of local languages, particularly Khowar, his mother tongue. Khan said he had developed a software that can be used to type in as many as 40 local languages, including Shina, Balti, Pashto, Kohistani, Damairi, Gojari, Dari, Ormuri, Yalolah, Hindko, Potohari and Torwali among others. Khan earlier developed a keyboard for Khowar, a language spoken by around one million people in Chitral and several parts of Gilgit-Baltistan. The developer could have sold his creation for a profit, but he decided to release it on the worldwide web instead, so that language lovers like him can use it free of cost. “Being a linguist, I’m in love with languages, and this is a gift from me to the people of Pakistan,” said Khan, who hails from the remote valley of Mirandeh Khot. He believes he is the first person in the world to create a software which allows the typing of 40 languages at a single platform. His software can be accessed at www.branah.com/khowar. A life in service Khan has worked untiringly for the promotion of Khowar. He is responsible for introducing Khowar within the 1st to 12th grade syllabi across schools in Chitral as well as setting up departments within Allama Iqbal Open University and Karachi’s Urdu University devoted to the language’s study. He has also written several children’s books and developed a dictionary in order to engage the youth. A large part of Khan’s life has been devoted to writing about his local landscape; through his work he has highlighted issues of education, human rights and language preservation. According to the regional online newspaper, Khan is the reigning father of the Khowar language and is also widely regarded in upper Chitral as the “supreme living authority on life and work of Allama Iqbal.” In an article published in 2012, the newspaper stated that Khan has translated Allama Iqbal’s books Bang-e-Dara, Bal-e-Jibreel, Zarb-e-Kaleem, Zaboor-e-Ajam and Armughan-e-Hijaz into Khowar. “He has penned more than 100 scholarly articles, 50 book reviews and 1,400 editorials, columns for Chitrali, Shimali and Pakistani newspapers,” it added. Khan has also won several awards throughout his career, including the Sanad-e-Imtiaz for children’s literature from the Ministry of Education and Shandoor Literature and Journalism Award.