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TWAS, The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, has appointed Romain Murenzi as its new executive director.

Murenzi, a Rwandan physicist who participated in driving the country's scientific renaissance, will replace Mohamed Hassan who is retiring after 25 years' service.

Rwanda's president, Paul Kagame, recruited Murenzi as minister of education, science, technology and scientific research in 2001 and, in 2006, minister of science, technology and information and communication technologies. In both roles he contributed to the expansion and modernisation of Rwanda's education system, and the building of the country's scientific and technological capacity.

Writing in SciDev.Net in 2009 Murenzi described Rwanda's commitment to science and technology as the route to development, saying that "by ensuring that science, technology, and innovation, as well as information and communication technologies, continue to play a central role in our development strategies, I am optimistic that Rwanda will achieve its goals in the coming years".

In 2009 he left Rwanda to take up the position of director of the US-based American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Center for Science, Technology and Sustainable Development, which examines issues related to science-based sustainable development, especially in the developing world.

Murenzi is a member of the board of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) and of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. He is on the advisory board of the science and development organisation Scientists Without Borders, and the scientific board of UNESCO's International Basic Science Programme.

"Professor Murenzi's successful career as a researcher, teacher and high-level administrator and policy official makes him an excellent choice for the executive director of TWAS," said the academy's president Jacob Palis. "We believe that Professor Murenzi has the skills and experience to lead the secretariat in the years ahead as TWAS seeks to expand its efforts to build scientific and technological capacity in all developing countries."

Launched in 1983 by Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam, TWAS oversees a broad range of capacity-building programmes. Its secretariat is in Italy, whose government gives it core funding.

Hassan told SciDev.Net in a recent interview that he hopes TWAS will continue to devolve from Trieste into the regions and become a major player in developing world science issues.