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[CAIRO] Omani biomedical scientist Abdallah Daar has been awarded UNESCO's 2005 Avicenna prize for ethics in science.

The prize, which recognises outstanding achievement in the field, was announced on 19 May. It includes US$10,000 and a one-week academic visit to Iran, which funds the prize.

The award is named after the 11th-century physician and Islamic philosopher, Abu Ali al-Husain Ibn Abdallah Ibn Sina — known in Latin as Avicenna — who spent his life promoting ethics in science.

Daar is currently director of ethics and policy at the McLaughlin Centre for Molecular Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada. He is also director of the applied ethics and biotechnology programme at the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics and co-director of the Canadian Program on Genomics and Global Health.

He previously held the chair of surgery at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman.

Daar has made several contributions to promoting consideration of the ethical issues raised by advances in science and technology, such as living donor organ transplants, the use of stem cells, and transplanting animal organs into humans.

He told SciDev.Net that his work "relates to the equitable use of science and technology for health and development in the developing world. It aims to reduce global knowledge divides in areas such as genomics, biotechnology and nanotechnology" (see Harnessing genomics and biotechnology to improve global health equity).

Daar believes that the first step to promoting ethics in science in developing countries is to encourage more science and technology focused on local needs and based on sound policies.

"Good practice and ethics come from empowerment, transparency, inclusivity and respect of all involved," he adds.

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