Indian scientist Yusuf Hamied gets Cambridge University chemistry honour

Indian scientist Yusuf Hamied gets Cambridge University chemistry honour

Dr Yusuf Hamied, the Indian scientist known for the “pioneering” supply of HIV/AIDS medicines to developing countries at a low cost and saving countless lives, has come full circle at his alma mater Cambridge University.

In recognition of his “generous benefaction”, the university said its chemistry department will be named the Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry until 2050. Dr Hamied, the non-executive chairman of Indian pharmaceutical major Cipla, is a former alumnus of the world-renowned university and made a “transformational gift” to to ensure that chemistry at Cambridge University will continue to be "world-leading in both teaching and research". His gift endows both a fund to attract and support the world’s brightest academic talent in chemistry, including exceptional early-career researchers in disciplines such as synthetic organic chemistry, and outstanding doctoral students from the UK and around the world through the new Hamied Scholars Programme.

Honouring a debt

Dr Hamied said: “Cambridge gave me the foundation of an education in chemistry, taught me how to live and showed me how to contribute to society.

"As a scholarship student myself, I am delighted to be able to support future generations of students. I will always be indebted to this great institution and everything it stands for.”

Hamied has retained close links with the UK university over the past 66 years, as a supporter of his own College — Christ’s — and the Department of Chemistry. In 2018, he endowed one of the world’s oldest academic Chairs in Chemistry, now known as the Yusuf Hamied 1702 Chair. His academic mentor and supervisor, Nobel Laureate Lord Alexander Todd, held the Chair during Hamied’s time at Cambridge as an undergraduate and PhD student.

Dr James Keeler, the Head of the Chemistry Department, said: “We are extremely thankful to Dr Hamied for his visionary support for Chemistry at Cambridge which will allow us to respond flexibly to future opportunities.

“His gift will ensure we continue to attract outstanding scientists who will make the discoveries that help tackle some of the most pressing challenges in global society.”

Improving lives

To help patients during the Covid-19 pandemic, Cipla is again providing medicines to healthcare organisations at affordable prices, making treatment more accessible, the university notes.

Professor Stephen J. Toope, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, said: “Yusuf Hamied has demonstrated an unequivocal commitment to changing and improving lives since his time at Cambridge.

“I am profoundly grateful for his remarkable gift to the Department of Chemistry, which will benefit generations of students and researchers.”

Among Hamied’s many honours include an honorary fellowship of Christ’s College in 2004; the Padma Bhushan, one of the highest Indian civilian awards in 2005; an honorary fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2012; and an honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Cambridge in 2014.

In 2019, he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy.

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