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US begins science outreach to Muslim world

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced three eminent scientists as the nation’s first Science Envoys to the Muslim world. The move is the first concrete indication that the administration is following through on its promise to help ramp up science and technology in Muslim-majority countries (Press Release).

Barack Obama first announced the plan during his June speech at Cairo University, where he pledged to “open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new Science Envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, and grow new crops launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries” (New York Times). Two months later at the inaugural meeting of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, science czar John Holdren mentioned that the administration had organized a task force to lead the initiative.

The three envoys, announced yesterday at Clinton’s speech in Marrakesh, Morocco:

• Bruce Alberts, a biochemist at University of California, San Francisco who served two terms as president of the National Academy of Sciences and is editor-in-chief of Science

• Dr. Elias Zerhouni, who was director of the National Institutes of Health from 2002 to 2008 and serves on the board of trustees for King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia

• Ahmed Zewail, an Egypt-born Nobel laureate at Cal Tech who also serves on PCAST

From the Nature archives:

Nature special on Islam and Science

Arab science: Blooms in the desert

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