A Decade of Excellence
Mohammed Riajul Hossain
A dream of establishing a department which would deal with the latest advancements of biological sciences materialised when Professor Anwar Hossain from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Dhaka, founded the Department of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (GEB), taking position as its Project Director. Professor Haseena Khan from Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Dhaka became the first Chairperson. Her contribution in the development of this promising department is immeasurable. The year 2011 marked ten glorious years for this growing department, producing graduates working in many fields of biological sciences, both home and abroad.
In the ten years of its inception, four batches earned their completion of MS. The department is currently running 6th to 11th batch of students; the last batch joined on the eve of the ten years celebration programme. The quality of education that the Department of GEB has maintained since the beginning of its journey is a matter of pride. A few of its graduates were directly involved in the jute genome sequencing that was carried out recently.
On the 10th anniversary held on January 29-30, Begum Matia Chowdhury, Minister, Ministry of Agriculture, was present as chief guest. Yafesh Osman, State Minister, Ministry of Science, Information and Communication Technology, Professor Dr. A A M S Arefin Siddique, Vice Chancellor, University of Dhaka and Professor Dr. Harun-Or-Rashid, Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of Dhaka were present as special guests. The venue for the programme was Senate Bhaban and Center for Excellence for the opening day while for the second day, TSC Auditorium and the GEB Department were the chosen venues. Begum Matia Chowdhury, in her speech, mentioned the importance of research in the programme curriculum. She urged the GEB students and researchers to find a salt tolerant rice variety which would survive in a container filled with only salt, so that the salt prone areas of our south coast can begin cultivation. Dr. Anwar Hossain shared his optimism for biotechnology sciences thriving in our part of the world. Dr. Haseena Khan delivered a touching speech describing her early struggle to run the department, and expressed hope that this department will reach higher planes in the near future. Dr. Jesmin, present Chairperson of GEB, Dr. A A M S Arefin Siddique, Dr. Harun-Or-Rashid and Dr. Shahid Akter Hossain, Dean of Faculty of Biological Sciences, were unanimous in their feelings about the immense prospect of biotechnology and genetic engineering in our country, expressing hopes that this department will be one of the leading ones in a not too distant future.
The first day of the programme consisted of two scientific sessions where Dr. Shah M Faruque and Dr. Rubhana Raqib delivered two plenary lectures. On the second day of the programme, a student outreach programme titled “Biotechnology for Better Life” was arranged where students from more than twelve colleges participated along with student representatives of different universities from all over the country, thus making the celebrations unique and educational. There were several demonstrations from former and current GEB students, especially arranged for college students. Students from different universities made presentations while students from different colleges took part in a quiz competition on biological sciences. Mastermind College took position as the champion while Oxford International College and Notre Dame College were the first and second runners up respectively in the inter college quiz competition. The winners received their prizes from the Vice Chancellor at the TSC auditorium. A.S.M. Mainuddin Monem, Deputy Managing Director of Abdul Monem Group was also present in the prize giving ceremony along with the Pro-VC and Dean of the Faculty of Biological Sciences, thus bringing about collaboration between the two industries.
In the ten years celebration occasion, biotechnologists and genetic engineers assembled in one place from all over the country. Department of GEB aims to establish a research centre and eventually excel in biological research. It fuels its graduates to contribute to different sectors of this science with good will and patriotism.
(The writer is a student at the Department of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, University of Dhaka.)