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Science and technology in Iran


Science and technology in Iran

Persia was a cradle of science in earlier times. Persia contributed to the current understanding of nature, medicine, mathematics, and philosophy. Persians made important contributions to algebra and chemistry, invented the wind-power machine, and the first distillation of alcohol. Trying to revive the golden time of Persian science, Iran's scientists cautiously reach out to the world. Many individual Iranian scientists, along with the Iranian Academy of Medical Sciences and Academy of Sciences of Iran, are involved in this revival.

Iran is an example of a country that has made considerable advances through education and training, despite international sanctions in almost all aspects of research during the past 30 years. Iran's university population swelled from 100,000 in 1979 to 2 million in 2006. 70% of its science and engineering students are women.[1] Iran's scientific progress is reported to be the fastest in the world.[2][3][4] Iran has made great strides in different sectors, including aerospace, nuclear science, medical development, as well as stem cell and cloning research.[5]


  • Science in Persia 1
    • Ancient technology in Persia 1.1
    • Mathematics 1.2
    • Medicine 1.3
    • Astronomy 1.4
    • Biology 1.5
    • Chemistry 1.6
    • Physics 1.7
  • Science in modern Iran 2
    • Budget 2.1
    • Overview 2.2
    • Scientific collaboration 2.3
    • Private sector 2.4
    • Technology parks 2.5
    • Medical sciences 2.6
    • Biotechnology 2.7
    • Physics and materials 2.8
    • Computer science and robotics 2.9
    • Nanotechnology 2.10
    • Aviation and space 2.11
    • Astronomy 2.12
    • Energy 2.13
    • Armaments 2.14
  • Contribution of Iranians and people of Iranian origin to modern science 3
  • International rankings 4
  • Iranian journals listed in the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) 5
  • See also 6
    • General 6.1
    • Prominent organizations 6.2
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Science in Persia

Science in Persia evolved in two main phases separated by the arrival and widespread adoption of Islam in the region.

References to scientific subjects such as natural science and mathematics occur in books written in the Pahlavi languages.

Ancient technology in Persia

The Qanat (a water management system used for irrigation) originated in pre-Achaemenid Persia. The oldest and largest known qanat is in the Iranian city of Gonabad, which, after 2,700 years, still provides drinking and agricultural water to nearly 40,000 people.[6]

Persian philosophers and inventors may have created the first batteries (sometimes known as the Baghdad Battery) in the Parthian or Sassanid eras. Some have suggested that the batteries may have been used medicinally. Other scientists believe the batteries were used for electroplating—transferring a thin layer of metal to another metal surface—a technique still used today and the focus of a common classroom experiment.[7]

Windwheels were developed by the Babylonians ca. 1700 BC to pump water for irrigation. In the 7th century, Persian engineers in Greater Iran developed a more advanced wind-power machine, the windmill, building upon the basic model developed by the Babylonians.[8][9]


Manuscript of Abdolrahman Sufi's Depiction of Celestial Constellations

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The 12th century mathematician Muhammad Ibn Musa-al-Kharazmi created the Logarithm table, developed algebra and expanded upon Persian and Indian arithmetic systems. His writings were translated into Latin by Gerard of Cremona under the title: De jebra et almucabola. Robert of Chester also translated it under the title Liber algebras et almucabala. The works of Kharazmi "exercised a profound influence on the development of mathematical thought in the medieval West".[10]

Other Persian scientists included Abu Abbas Fazl Hatam, the Banu Musa brothers, Farahani, Omar Ibn Farakhan, Abu Zeid Ahmad Ibn Soheil Balkhi (9th century AD), Abul Vafa Bouzjani, Abu Jaafar Khan, Bijan Ibn Rostam Kouhi, Ahmad Ibn Abdul Jalil Qomi, Bu Nasr Araghi, Abu Reyhan Birooni, the noted Iranian poet Hakim Omar Khayyam Neishaburi, Qatan Marvazi, Massoudi Ghaznavi (13th century AD), Khajeh Nassireddin Tusi, and Ghiasseddin Jamshidi Kashani.


The practice and study of medicine in Iran has a long and prolific history. Situated at the crossroads of the East and West, Persia was often involved in developments in ancient Greek and Indian medicine; pre- and post-Islamic Iran have been involved in medicine as well.

For example, the first teaching hospital where medical students methodically practiced on patients under the supervision of physicians was the Academy of Gundishapur in the Persian Empire. Some experts go so far as to claim that: "to a very large extent, the credit for the whole hospital system must be given to Persia".[11]

The idea of xenotransplantation dates to the days of Achaemenidae (the Achaemenian dynasty), as evidenced by engravings of many mythologic chimeras still present in Persepolis.[12]

From: Mansur ibn Ilyas: Tashrīḥ-e badan-e ensān. تشريح بدن انسان. Manuscript, ca. 1450, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
A 500-year-old Latin translation of the Canon of Medicine by Avicenna.

Several documents still exist from which the definitions and treatments of the headache in medieval Persia can be ascertained. These documents give detailed and precise clinical information on the different types of headaches. The medieval physicians listed various signs and symptoms, apparent causes, and hygienic and dietary rules for prevention of headaches. The medieval writings are both accurate and vivid, and they provide long lists of substances used in the treatment of headaches. Many of the approaches of physicians in medieval Persia are accepted today; however, still more of them could be of use to modern medicine.[13]

In the 10th century work of Shahnameh, Ferdowsi describes a Caesarean section performed on Rudabeh, during which a special wine agent was prepared by a Zoroastrian priest and used to produce unconsciousness for the operation.[14] Although largely mythical in content, the passage illustrates working knowledge of anesthesia in ancient Persia.

Later in the 10th century, Abu Bakr Muhammad Bin Zakaria Razi is considered the founder of practical physics and the inventor of the special or net weight of matter. His student, Abu Bakr Joveini, wrote the first comprehensive medical book in the Persian language. Razi is also the inventor of alcohol.

After the Islamic conquest of Iran, medicine continued to flourish with the rise of notables such as Rhazes and Haly Abbas, albeit Baghdad was the new cosmopolitan inheritor of Sassanid Jundishapur's medical academy.

An idea of the number of medical works composed in Persian alone may be gathered from Adolf Fonahn's Zur Quellenkunde der Persischen Medizin, published in Leipzig in 1910. The author enumerates over 400 works in the Persian language on medicine, excluding authors such as Avicenna, who wrote in Arabic. Author-historians Meyerhof, Casey Wood, and Hirschberg also have recorded the names of at least 80 oculists who contributed treatises on subjects related to ophthalmology from the beginning of 800 AD to the full flowering of Muslim medical literature in 1300 AD.

Aside from the aforementioned, two other medical works attracted great attention in medieval Europe, namely Abu Mansur Muwaffaq's Materia Medica, written around 950 AD, and the illustrated Anatomy of Mansur ibn Muhammad, written in 1396 AD.

Modern academic medicine began in Iran when Joseph Cochran established a medical college in Urmia in 1878. Cochran is often credited for founding Iran's "first contemporary medical college".[15] The website of Urmia University credits Cochran for "lowering the infant mortality rate in the region"[16] and for founding one of Iran's first modern hospitals (Westminster Hospital) in Urmia.


An 18th century Persian astrolabe

In 1000 AD, Biruni wrote an astronomical encyclopaedia that discussed the possibility that the earth might rotate around the sun. This was before Tycho Brahe drew the first maps of the sky, using stylized animals to depict the constellations.

In the tenth century, the Persian astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi cast his eyes upwards to the awning of stars overhead and was the first to record a galaxy outside our own. Gazing at the Andromeda galaxy he called it a "little cloud" – an apt description of the slightly wispy appearance of our galactic neighbour.[17]



Tusi believed that a body of matter is able to change but is not able to disappear entirely. He wrote "a body of matter cannot disappear completely. It only changes its form, condition, composition, color, and other properties, and turns into a different complex or elementary matter". Five hundred years later, Mikhail Lomonosov (1711–1765) and Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1743–1794) created the law of conservation of mass, setting down this same idea.[18] However, it should be noted that Tusi argued for evolution within a firmly Islamic context—he did not, like Darwin, draw materialist conclusions from his theories. Moreover, unlike Darwin, he was arguing hypothetically: he did not attempt to provide empirical data for his theories. Nonetheless his arguments, which in some ways prefigure natural selection, are still considered remarkably 'advanced' for their time.

Jaber Ibn Hayyan, the famous Iranian chemist who died in 804 at Tous in Khorasan, was the father of a number of discoveries recorded in an encyclopaedia and of many treatises covering two thousand topics, and these became the bible of European chemists of the 18th century, particularly of Lavoisier. These works had a variety of uses including tinctures and their applications in tanning and textiles; distillations of plants and flowers; the origin of perfumes; therapeutic pharmacy, and gunpowder, a powerful military instrument possessed by Islam long before the West. Jabir ibn Hayyan, is widely regarded as the founder of chemistry, inventing many of the basic processes and equipment still used by chemists today such as distillation.[17]


Kamal al-Din al-Farisi's autograph manuscript in Optics, Tanqih al-Manazir, 1309 A.D., Adilnor's Collection.

Abu Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham is known in the West as Alhazen, born in 965 in Persia and dying in 1039 in Egypt. He is known as the father of optics for his writings on, and experiments with, lenses, mirrors, refraction, and reflection. He correctly stated that vision results from light that is reflected into the eye by an object, not emitted by the eye itself and reflected back, as Aristotle believed. He solved the problem of finding the locus of points on a spherical mirror from which light will be reflected to an observer. From his studies of refraction, he determined that the atmosphere has a definite height and that twilight is caused by refraction of solar radiation from beneath the horizon.[19]

Biruni was the first scientist to formally propose that the speed of light is finite, before Galileo tried to experimentally prove this.

Kamal al-Din Al-Farisi (1267–1318) born in Tabriz, Iran, is known for giving the first mathematically satisfactory explanation of the rainbow, and an explication of the nature of colours that reformed the theory of Ibn al-Haytham. Al-Farisi also "proposed a model where the ray of light from the sun was refracted twice by a water droplet, one or more reflections occurring between the two refractions." He verified this through extensive experimentation using a transparent sphere filled with water and a camera obscura.

Science in modern Iran

Considering the country's brain drain and its poor political relationship with the United States and some other Western countries, Iran's scientific community remains productive, even while economic sanctions make it difficult for universities to buy equipment or to send people to the United States to attend scientific meetings.[20] Furthermore, Iran considers scientific backwardness, as one of the root causes of political and military bullying by developed countries over undeveloped states.[21][22] After the Iranian Revolution, there have been efforts by the religious scholars to assimilate Islam with modern science and this is seen by some as the reason behind the recent successes of Iran to augment its scientific output.[23] Currently Iran aims for a national goal of self sustainment in all scientific arenas.[24][25] Many individual Iranian scientists, along with the Iranian Academy of Medical Sciences and Academy of Sciences of Iran, are involved in this revival. The Comprehensive Scientific Plan has been devised based on about 51,000 pages of documents and includes 224 scientific projects that must be implemented by the year 2025.[26][27]


Iran's national science budget was about $900 million in 2005 and it had not been subject to any significant increase for the previous 15 years.[28] By early 2000, Iran allocated around 0.4% of its GDP to

  • Major Scientific Developments in Iran – Part I Part II Part III (2010 PressTV)
  • Iran's scientific achievements (2011 PressTV)
  • Laser Technology advancements in Iran – Part I Part II Part III (2010 PressTV)
  • Iran's comprehensive scientific plan (2011 PressTV)
  • Nanotechnology in Iran (July 2011, PressTV)
  • Nanotechnology in Iran (October 2011, PressTV)
  • Iran surgical society (2011 PressTV)
  • A Review of Iran's Scientific Achievement in 2011 (March 2012, PressTV)
  • Scientific Ranking of Iran (2012 PressTV)

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Prominent organizations


See also

  • Acta Medica Iranica
  • Applied Entomology and PhytoPathology
  • Archives of Iranian Medicine
  • DARU Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Iranian Biomedical Journal
  • Iranian Journal of BioTechnology
  • Iranian Journal of Chemistry & Chemical Engineering
  • Iranian Journal of Fisheries Sciences-English
  • Iranian Journal of Plant Pathology
  • Iranian Journal of Science and Technology
  • Iranian Polymer Journal
  • Iranian Journal of Public Health
  • Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research
  • Iranian Journal of Reproductive Medicine
  • Iranian Journal of Veterinary Medicine
  • Iranian Journal of Fuzzy Systems
  • Journal of Entomological Society of Iran
  • Plant Pests & Diseases Research Institute Insect Taxonomy Research Department Publication
  • The Journal of the Iranian Chemical Society
  • Rostaniha (Botanical Journal of Iran)
Iranian neuroscientists have also published in highly acclaimed journals. This nature paper is an example of such a research work carried out by Iranians who did their majority training and research in Iran
Scientific growth in Iran[177][217][218][219][219][220]

According to the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), Iranian researchers and scientists have published a total of 60,979 scientific studies in major international journals in the last 19 years (1990–2008).[217][218]

Iranian journals listed in the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI)

  • As per WIPO's report titled "World Intellectual Property Indicators 2013", Iran ranked 90th for patents generated by Iranian nationals all over the world, 100th in industrial design and 82nd in trademarks, positioning Iran below Jordan and Venezuela in this regard but above Yemen and Jamaica.[215][216]
  • In 2011, world's oldest scientific society and Britain's leading academic institution, the Royal Society in collaboration with Elsevier published a study named "Knowledge, networks and nations" surveying global scientific landscape. According to this survey Iran has the world's fastest growth rate in science and technology. During the period 1996–2008, Iran had increased its scientific output by 18 folds.[35][36][38][39][208][209][210][211][212][213][214]
  • A bibliometric analysis of middle east was released by professional division of Thomson Reuters in 2011 titled "Global Research Report Middle East" comparing scientific research in middle eastern countries with that of the world for the first decade of this century. The study findings rank Iran at second position after Turkey in terms of total scientific output with Turkey producing 1.9% of the world's total science output while Iran's share of world's total science output was at 1.3%. Total scientific output of 14 countries surveyed including Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen was just 4% of the world's total output; with Turkey and Iran producing the bulk of scientific research in the region. In terms of growth in scientific research, Iran was ranked first with 650% increase of its share in world's output and Turkey second with a growth of 270%. Turkey increased its research publication rate from 5000 papers in year 2000 to nearly 22000 in the year 2009, while Iran's research publication started from a lower point of 1300 papers in year 2000 and grew to 15000 papers in the year 2009 with a notable surge in Iranian growth after year 2004. In terms of production of highly cited papers, 1.7% of all Iranian papers in mathematics and 1.3% of papers in engineering fields attained highly cited status defined as most cited top 1% of world's publications, exceeding the world's average in citation impact for those fields. Overall Iran produces 0.48% of the world's highly cited output in all fields just about half of what would be expected for parity at 1%. Comparative figures for other countries following Iran in the region are: Turkey producing 0.37% of the world's highly cited papers, Jordan 0.28%, Egypt 0.26% and Saudi Arabia 0.25%. External scientific collaboration accounted for 21% of the total research projects undertaken by researchers in Iran with largest collaborators being United States at 4.3%, United Kingdom at 3.3%, Canada 3.1%, Germany 1.7% and Australia at 1.6%.[207]
  • According to the latest updated French government report "L'Observatoire des sciences et des techniques (OST) 2014", Iran had the world's fastest growth rate in scientific production output in the period between 2002 and 2012, having increased its share of world's total scientific output by +682% in the said period, producing 1.4% of world's total science and ranking 18th globally in terms of its total scientific output. Meanwhile Iran also ranks first globally for having increased its share in the world's high impact (top 10%) publications by +1338% between 2002 and 2012 and similarly ranks first globally as well for increasing its global scientific visibility through having its share of international citations increased by +996% in the above period. Iran also ranks first globally in this report for the growth rate in scientific production of individual fields by having increased its science output in Biology by +1286%, in Medicine by +900%, in Applied biology and Ecology by +816%, in Chemistry by +356%, in Physics by +577%, in Space sciences by +947%, in Engineering sciences by +796% and in Mathematics by +556%.[204][205][206]
  • As per French government report "L'Observatoire des sciences et des techniques (OST) 2010", Iran had the world's fastest growth rate in scientific article output between 2003 and 2008 period at +219%, producing 0.8% of the world's total material sciences knowledge out put in 2008, the same as Israel. The fastest growing scientific field in Iran was medical sciences at 344% and the slowest growth was of chemistry at 128% with the growth for other fields being biology 342%, ecology 298%, physics 182%, basic sciences 285%, engineering 235% and mathematics at 255%. As per the same report among the countries that produced less than 2% of the world's science and technology, only Iran, Turkey and Brazil had the most dynamic growth in their scientific output, with Turkey and Brazil having a growth rate above 40% and Iran above 200% compared with South Korea and Taiwan growth rates at 31% and 37% respectively. Iran also was among the countries whose scientific visibility was growing fastest in the world such as China, Turkey, India and Singapore though all growing from a low visibility base.[201][202][203]
  • According to the sixth report on "international comparative performance of UK research base" prepared in September 2009 by Britain based research firm Evidence and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Iran has increased its total output from 0.13% of world's output in 1999 to almost 1% of world's output in 2008. As per the same report Iran had doubled its biological sciences and health research out put in just two years (2006–2008). The report further notes that Iran by 2008 had increased its output in physical sciences by as much as ten times in ten years and its share in world's total output had reached 1.3%, comparing with US share of 20% and Chinese share of 18%. Similarly Iran's engineering output had grown to 1.6% of the world's output being greater than Belgium or Sweden and just smaller than Russia's output at 1.8%. During the period 1999–2008, Iran improved its science impact from 0.66 to 1.07 above the world's average of 0.7 similar to Singapore's. In engineering Iran improved its impact and is already ahead of India, South Korea and Taiwan in engineering research performance. By 2008, Iran's share of most cited top 1% of world's papers was 0.25% of the world's total.[200]
  • Science Watch reported in 2008 that Iran has the world's highest growth rate for citations in medical, environmental and ecological sciences.[199] According to the same source, Iran during the period 2005–2009, had produced 1.71% of world's total engineering papers, 1.68% of world's total chemistry papers and 1.19% of world's total material sciences papers.[177]
  • According to a report by SJR (A Spanish sponsored scientific-data data) Iran ranked 25th in the world in scientific publications by volume in 2007 (a huge leap from the rank of 40 few years before).[195] As per the same source Iran ranked 20th and 17th by total output in 2010 and 2011 respectively.[196][197]
  • Iran ranked 49th for citations, 42nd for papers, and 135th for citations per paper in 2005.[194] Their publication rate in international journals has quadrupled during the past decade. Although it is still low compared with the developed countries, this puts Iran in the first rank of Islamic countries.[20] According to a British government study (2002), Iran ranked 30th in the world in terms of scientific impact.[110]
  • The latest updated National Science Foundation report published in 2014 by US government titled "Science and Engineering Indicators 2014", has again ranked Iran first globally in terms of growth in science and engineering article output at an annualized growth rate of 23.0% with 25% of Iran's output having been produced through international collaboration.[192][193]
  • As per US government report on science and engineering titled "Science and Engineering Indicators: 2010" prepared by National Science Foundation, Iran has the world's highest growth rate in Science & Engineering article output with an annual growth rate of 25.7%. The report is introduced as a factual and policy neutral "...volume of record comprising the major high-quality quantitative data on the U.S. and international science and engineering enterprise". This report also notes that the very rapid growth rate of Iran inside a wider region was led by its growth in scientific instruments, pharmaceuticals, communications and semiconductors.[186][187][188][189][190]
  • A 2010 report by Canadian research firm Science-Metrix has put Iran in the top rank globally in terms of growth in scientific productivity with a 14.4 growth index followed by South Korea with a 9.8 growth index.[174] Iran's growth rate in science and technology is 11 times more than the average growth of the world's output in 2009 and in terms of total output per year, Iran has already surpassed the total scientific output of countries like Sweden, Switzerland, Israel, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Austria or that of Norway.[175][176][177] Iran with a science and technology yearly growth rate of 25% is doubling its total output every three years and at this rate will reach the level of Canadian annual output in 2017.[178] The report further notes that Iran's scientific capability build-up has been the fastest in the past two decades and that this build-up is in part due to the Iraqi invasion of Iran, the subsequent bloody Iran Iraq war and Iran's high casualties due to the international sanctions in effect on Iran as compared to the international support Iraq enjoyed. The then technologically superior Iraq and its use of chemical weapons on Iranians, made Iran to embark on a very ambitious science developing program by mobilizing scientists in order to offset its international isolation, and this is most evident in the country's nuclear sciences advancement, which has in the past two decades grown by 8,400% as compared to the 34% for the rest of the world. This report further predicts that though Iran's scientific advancement as a response to its international isolation may remain a cause of concern for the world, all the while it may lead to a higher quality of life for the Iranian population but simultaneously and paradoxically will also isolate Iran even more because of the world's concern over Iran's technological advancements. Other findings of the report point out that the fastest growing sectors in Iran are Physics, Public health sciences, Engineering, Chemistry and Mathematics. Overall the growth has mostly occurred after 1980 and specially has been becoming faster since 1991 with a significant acceleration in 2002 and an explosive surge since 2005.[5][174][175][179][180][181] It has been argued that scientific and technological advancement besides the nuclear program is the main reason for United States worry about Iran, which may become a superpower in the future.[182][183][184] Some in Iranian scientific community see sanctions as a western conspiracy to stop Iran's rising rank in modern science and allege that some (western) countries want to monopolize modern technologies.[185]
  • According to the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), Iran increased its academic publishing output nearly tenfold from 1996 to 2004, and has been ranked first globally in terms of output growth rate (followed by China with a 3 fold increase).[165][166] In comparison, the only G8 countries in top 20 ranking with fastest performance improvement are Italy at tenth and Canada at 13th globally.[165][166][167] Iran, China, India and Brazil are the only developing countries among 31 nations with 97.5% of the world's total scientific productivity. The remaining 162 developing countries contribute less than 2.5% of the world's scientific output.[168] Despite the massive improvement from 0.0003% of the global scientific output in 1970 to 0.29% in 2003, still Iran's total share in the world's total output remained small.[169][170] According to Thomson Reuters, Iran has demonstrated a remarkable growth in science and technology over the past one decade, increasing its science and technology output fivefold from 2000 to 2008. Most of this growth has been in engineering and chemistry producing 1.4% of the world's total output in the period 2004–2008. By year 2008, Iranian science and technology output accounted for 1.02% of the world's total output (That is ~340000% growth in 37 years of 1970–2008).[171] 25% of scientific articles published in 2008 by Iran were international coauthorships. The top five countries coauthoring with Iranian scientists are US, UK, Canada, Germany and France.[172][173]
  • According to Scopus, Iran ranked 17th in terms of science production in the world in 2012 with the production of 34,155 articles above Switzerland and Turkey.[164]

International rankings

  • Karim Nayernia: discovery of spermatagonial stem cells
  • Reza Ghadiri: 1998 Feynman prize for invention of a self-organized replicating molecular system
  • Mehdi Vaez-Iravani: invention of shear force microscopy
  • Siavash Alamouti and Vahid Tarokh: invention of space–time block code
  • Faraneh Vargha-Khadem: discovery of SPCH1, a gene implicated in a severe speech and language disorder
  • Shirin Dehghan: 2006 Women in Technology Award[145]
  • Nader Engheta, inventor of "invisibility shield" (plasmonic cover) and research leader of the year 2006, Scientific American magazine,[146] and winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1999) for "Fractional paradigm of classical electrodynamics"
  • Ali Safaeinili: coinventor of Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS)[147]
  • Pierre Omidyar: economist, founder and chairman of eBay
  • Rouzbeh Yassini: inventor of the cable modem
  • Homayoun Seraji: most-published author in the 20-year history of the Journal of Robotic Systems (declared in 2007).
  • Moslem Bahadori: reported the first case of plasma cell granuloma of the lung.
  • Mohammad Abdollahi: The Laureate of IAS-COMSTECH 2005 Prize in the field of Pharmacology and Toxicology and an IAS Fellow. MA is ranked as an International Top 1% outstanding Scientists of the World in the field of Pharmacology & Toxicology according to Essential Science Indicator from USA Thompson Reuters ISI.[148] An award named "Mohammad Abdollahi Prize" has been established by Asian Network for Scientific Information and Science Alert Publishing company and The International Journal of Pharmacology in the recognition of MA efforts in the field of Pharmacology & Toxicology.[149] MA is also known as one of outstanding leading scientists of OIC member countries.[150]
  • Maysam Ghovanloo: inventor of Tongue-Drive Wheelchair.
  • Mansour Ahmadian and Jila Nazari: Developers of PARS (Parallel Application from Rapid Simulation), which won the IET Innovation award 2008 in software design[151][152][153][154][155][156]
  • Mohammad-Nabi Sarbolouki, invention of dendrosome[157]
  • Shekoufeh Nikfar: The awardee of the top women scientists by TWAS-TWOWS-Scopus in the field of Medicine in 2009.[158][159]
  • Afsaneh Rabiei: inventor[160] of an ultra-strong and lightweight material, known as Composite Metal Foam (CMF).[161]
  • Maryam Mirzakhani: In August 2014, Mirzakhani became the first-ever woman, as well as the first-ever Iranian, to receive the Fields Medal, the highest prize in mathematics.[162]
  • Ramin Golestanian: In August 2014, Ramin Golestanian won the Holweck Prize for his research work in physics.[163]

Scientists with an Iranian background have made significant contributions to the international scientific community. In 1960, Ali Javan invented first gas laser. In 1973, the fuzzy set theory was developed by Lotfi Zadeh. Iranian cardiologist Tofy Mussivand invented the first artificial heart and afterwards developed it further. HbA1c was discovered by Samuel Rahbar and introduced to the medical community. The Vafa-Witten theorem was proposed by Cumrun Vafa, an Iranian string theorist, and his co-worker Edward Witten. The Kardar-Parisi-Zhang (KPZ) equation has been named after Mehran Kardar, notable Iranian physicist. Other notable discoveries and innovations by Iranian scientists and engineers (or of Iranian origin) include:

Ahmad Reza Dehpour, Iran's most prolific researcher of the year 2006.

Contribution of Iranians and people of Iranian origin to modern science

Iran possesses the technology to launch superfast anti-submarine rockets that can travel at the speed of 100 meters per second under water, making the country second only to Russia in possessing the technology.[140] Iran is among the five countries in the world to have developed ammunitions with laser targeting technology.[141] Iran is among the few countries that possess the technological know-how of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) fitted with scanning and reconnaissance systems.[142] Iran is among the 12 countries with missile technology.[90] Over the past years, Iran has made important breakthroughs in its defense sector and attained self-sufficiency in producing important military equipment and systems.[143] Since 1992, it also has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, sophisticated radars, missiles, a submarine, and fighter planes.[144]

Zoobin electro-optically guided air to surface missile


Iran has achieved the technical expertise to set up hydroelectric, gas and combined cycle power plants.[128][129] Iran is among the four world countries that are capable of manufacturing advanced V94.2 gas turbines.[130] Iran is able to produce all the parts needed for its gas refineries[131] and is now the third country in the world to have developed Gas to liquids (GTL) technology.[132][133] Iran produces 70% of its industrial equipment domestically including refineries, oil tankers, oil rigs, offshore platforms and exploration instruments.[134][135][136][137] Iran is among the few countries that has reached the technology and "know-how" for drilling in the deep waters.[138] Iran's indigenously designed Darkhovin Nuclear Power Plant is scheduled to come online in 2016.[139]


The Iranian government has committed 150 billion rials (roughly 16 million US dollars)[125] for a telescope, an observatory, and a training program, all part of a plan to build up the country's astronomy base. Iran wants to collaborate internationally and become internationally competitive in astronomy, says the University of Michigan's Carl Akerlof, an adviser to the Iranian project. "For a government that is usually characterized as wary of foreigners, that's an important development".[126] In July 2010, Iran unveiled its largest domestically-manufactured telescope dubbed "Tara".[127]


On 17 August 2008, The Iranian Space Agency proceeded with the second test launch of a three stages Safir SLV from a site south of Semnan in the northern part of the Dasht-e-Kavir desert. The Safir (Ambassador) satellite carrier successfully launched the Omid satellite into orbit in February 2009.[116][117][118] Iran is the 9th country to put a domestically-built satellite into orbit since the Soviet Union launched the first in 1957.[119] Iran is among a handful of countries in the world capable of developing satellite-related technologies, including satellite navigation systems.[120] Iran's first astronaut will be sent into space on board an Iranian shuttle by 2019.[121][122] Iran is also the sixth country to send animals in space. Iran is one of the few countries capable of producing 20-25 ton sea patrol aircraft.[123] In 2013, Iran constructed its first hypersonic wind tunnel for testing missiles and doing aerospace research.[124]

Aviation and space

Iran ranked 23rd[109] in the world in Nanotechnology in 2007 with highest, ranked paper citation international mean, amongst all Islamic countries and only second to S. Korea in Asia.[110] In 2007 Iranian scientists at the Medical Sciences and Technology Center succeeded in mass-producing an advanced scanning microscope—the Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM).[111] By 2012, Iran ranked 8th in nanotechnologies.[109][112][113][114] Iran has designed and mass-produced more than 35 kinds of advanced nanotechnology devices. These include laboratory equipments, antibacterial strings, power station filters and construction related equipment and materials.[115]


Ultra Fast Microprocessors Research Center in Tehran's IDRO) was built from 216 AMD processors. The Linux-cluster machine has a reported "theoretical peak performance of 860 gig-flops".[106] The Routerlab team at the University of Tehran successfully designed and implemented an access-router (RAHYAB-300) and a 40Gbit/s high capacity switch fabric (UTS).[107] In 2011 Amirkabir University of Technology and Isfahan University of Technology produced 2 new supercomputers with processing capacity of 34,000 billion operations per second.[108] The supercomputer at Amirkabir University of Technology is expected to be among the 500 ones of the world.[108]

Center of Excellence in Design, Robotics, and Automation was established in 2001 to promote educational and research activities in the fields of design, robotics, and automation. Besides these professional groups, several robotics groups work in Iranian high schools.[96] "Sorena 2" Robot, which was designed by engineers at University of Tehran, was unveiled in 2010. The robot can be used for handling sensitive tasks without the need for cooperating with human beings. The robot is taking slow steps similar to human beings, harmonious movements of hands and feet and other movements similar to humans.[97][98][99] Next the researchers plan to develop speech and vision capabilities and greater intelligence for this robot.[100] the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has placed the name of Surena among the five prominent robots of the world after analyzing its performance.[101] In 2010, Iranian researchers have, for the first time in the country, developed ten robots for the nation's automotive industry using domestic know how.[102]

Computer science and robotics

Iran had some significant successes in nuclear fusion device, named IR-IECF.[95] Iran is the 6th country with such technology.[95]

IR-40 Reactor

Physics and materials

In 2010 AryoGen Biopharma established the biggest and most modern knowledge-based facility for production of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies in the region. As at 2012, Iran produces 15 types of monoclonal/anti-body drugs. These anti-cancer drugs are now produced by only two to three western companies.[87]

The legacy of Alhazen, who was highly instrumental in the founding of modern optics was continued by Ali Javan, who invented the gas laser. Laser optics via fiber optics is a key technology used in the Internet today.[86]

In 2010, Iran begun mass-producing ocular bio-implants named SAMT.[85] Iran began investing in biotechnological projects in 1992 and this is the tenth facility in Iran. 'Lifepatch' is the fourth bio-implant mass-produced by Iran after bone, heart valve, and tendon bio-implants.[85] 12 countries in the world produce bio-tech drugs, which Iran is one of them.[62]

In the last months of 2006, Iranian biotechnologists announced that they, as the third manufacturer in the world, have sent CinnoVex (a recombinant type of Interferon b1a) to the market.[81] According to a study by David Morrison and Ali Khademhosseini (Harvard-MIT and Cambridge), stem cell research in Iran is amongst the top 10 in the world.[82] Iran will invest 2.5 billion dollars in the country's stem cell research over the next five years (2008–2013).[83] Iran ranks 2nd in world in transplantation of stem cells.[84]

Agricultural research has been successful in releasing high yielding varieties with higher stability as well as tolerance to harsh weather conditions. The agriculture researchers are working jointly with international Institutes to find the best procedures and genotypes to overcome produce failure and to increase yield. In 2005, Iran's first genetically modified (GM) rice was approved by national authorities and is being grown commercially for human consumption. In addition to GM rice, Iran has produced several GM plants in the laboratory, such as insect-resistant maize; cotton; potatoes and sugar beets; herbicide-resistant canola; salinity- and drought-tolerant wheat; and blight-resistant maize and wheat.[78] The Royan Institute engineered Iran's first cloned animal; the sheep was born on 2 August 2006 and has passed the critical first two months of his life.[79][80]

Iran has a growing biotechnology sector that is one of the most advanced in the developing world.[76][77] The Razi Institute for Serums and Vaccines and the Pasteur Institute of Iran are leading regional facilities in the development and manufacture of vaccines. In January 1997, the Iranian Biotechnology Society (IBS) was created to oversee biotechnology research in Iran.[76]

Mohammad-Nabi Sarbolouki, prominent scientist and founder of the first biomaterial research center in Iran
Inside Aryogen, production line for AryoSeven
Inside AryoGen's production line.


Iranian surgeons treating wounded Iranian veterans during Iran–Iraq War invented a new neurosurgical treatment for brain injured patients that laid to rest the previously prevalent technique developed by US Army surgeon Dr Ralph Munslow. This new surgical procedure helped devise new guidelines that have decreased death rates for comatosed patients with penetrating brain injuries from 55% of 1980 to 20% of 2010. It has been said that these new treatment guidelines benefited US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who had been shot in the head.[73][74][75]

Neuroscience is also emerging in Iran.[70] A few PhD programs in cognitive and computational neuroscience have been established in the country during recent decades. Iran ranks first in Mideast and region in ophthalmology.[71][72]

[67] Modern organ transplantation in Iran dates to 1935, when the first cornea transplant in Iran was performed by Professor

Prof Moslem Bahadori, one of the pioneering figures in modern Iranian medicine

With over 400 medical research facilities and 76 medical magazine indexes available in the country, Iran is the 19th country in medical research and is set to become the 10th within 10 years (2012).[62][63] Clinical sciences are invested in highly in Iran. In areas such as rheumatology, hematology, and bone marrow trasplantation, Iranian medical scientists publish regularly.[64] The Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation Research Center (HORC) of Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Shariati Hospital was established in 1991. Internationally, this center is one of the largest bone marrow transplantation centers and has carried out a large number of successful transplantations.[65] According to a study conducted in 2005, associated specialized pediatric hematology and oncology (PHO) services exist in almost all major cities throughout the country, where 43 board-certified or eligible pediatric hematologist–oncologists are giving care to children suffering from cancer or hematological disorders. Three children's medical centers at universities have approved PHO fellowship programs.[66] Besides hematology, gastroenterology has recently attracted many talented medical students. The gasteroenterology research center based at Tehran University has produced increasing numbers of scientific publications since its establishment.

Medical sciences

Park's name Focus area Location
Guilan Science and Technology Park Agro-Food, Biotechnology, Chemistry, Electronics, Environment, ICT, Tourism.[56] Guilan
Pardis Technology Park Advanced Engineering (mechanics and automation), Biotechnology, Chemistry, Electronics, ICT, Nano-technology.[56] 25 km North-East of Tehran
Tehran Software and Information Technology Park (planned)[57] ICT[58] Tehran
Tehran University and Science Technology Park[59] Tehran
Khorasan Science and Technology Park (Ministry of Science, Research and Technology) Advanced Engineering, Agro-Food, Chemistry, Electronics, ICT, Services.[56] Khorasan
Sheikh Bahai Technology Park (Aka "Isfahan Science and Technology Town") Materials and Metallurgy, Information and Communications Technology, Design & Manufacturing, Automation, Biotechnology, Services.[56] Isfahan
Semnan Province Technology Park Semnan
East Azerbaijan Province Technology Park East Azerbaijan
Yazd Province Technology Park Yazd
Markazi Province Technology Park Arak
"Kahkeshan" (Galaxy) Technology Park[60] Aerospace Tehran
Pars Aero Technology Park[61] Aviation Tehran
Energy Technology Park (planned)[45] Energy N/A

As of 2012, Iran had 31 science and technology parks nationwide.[53] As of 2014, Iran had also 930 industrial parks and zones, of which 731 are ready to be ceded to the private sector.[54] The government of Iran has plans for the establishment of 50–60 new industrial parks by the end of the fifth Five-Year Socioeconomic Development Plan (2015).[55]

Technology parks

Parallel to academic research, several companies have been founded in Iran during last few decades. For example CinnaGen, established in 1992, is one of the pioneering biotechnology companies in the region. CinnaGen won Biotechnology Asia 2005 Innovation Awards due to its achievements and innovation in biotechnology research. In 2006 Parsé Semiconductor Co. announced it had designed and produced a 32-bit computer microprocessor inside the country for the first time.[49] Software companies are growing rapidly. In CeBIT 2006, ten Iranian software companies introduced their products.[50][51] Iran's National Foundation for Computer Games unveiled the country's first online video game in 2010, capable of supporting up to 5,000 users at the same time.[52]

Despite these problems, Iran has progressed in various scientific and technological fields, including petrochemical, pharmaceutical, aerospace, defense, and heavy industry. Even in the face of economic sanctions, Iran is emerging as an industrialized country.[48]

identified the following impediments to industrial development: [47] In Iran, only a limited number of

The 5th Development Plan requires the private sector to communicate research needs to universities so that universities would coordinate research projects in line with these needs, with sharing of expenses by both sides.[45]

Private sector

Iranian and U.S. scientists have collaborated on a number of projects.[44]

Iran is also an active member of COMSTECH and collaborates in its international projects. The coordinator general of COMSTECH, Dr. Atta ur Rahman has said that Iran is the leader in science and technology among Muslim countries and hoped for greater cooperation with Iran in different international technological and industrialization projects.[42] In 2012, Iran researchers joined the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), which is the world's largest and most advanced experimental fusion reactor.[43]

Iranians welcome scientists from all over the world to Iran for a visit and participation in seminars or collaborations. Many Nobel laureates and influential scientists such as Bruce Alberts, F. Sherwood Rowland, Kurt Wüthrich, Stephen Hawking, and Pierre-Gilles de Gennes visited Iran after the Iranian revolution. Some universities also hosted American and European scientists as guest lecturers during recent decades.

Iran annually hosts international science festivals. The International Kharazmi Festival in Basic Science and The Annual Razi Medical Sciences Research Festival promote original research in science, technology, and medicine in Iran. There is also an ongoing R&D collaboration between large state-owned companies and the universities in Iran.

Scientific collaboration

[41] Despite the limitations in funds, facilities, and international collaborations, Iranian scientists have been very productive in several experimental fields such as [40] Theoretical and computational sciences are highly developed in Iran.


In 2009, Iranian government formulated a 15 year comprehensive national plan for science focused on higher education and strengthening the links between academia and industry in order to promote a knowledge based economy. As per the plan by year 2030, Iran's research and development spending is to be increased to 4% of GDP from 0.59% of 2006 and increasing its education spending to over 7% of GDP from the 2007 level of 5.49%.[35][36][37][38][39]


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