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AfricaMoney | June 28, 2017

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Dr Shameem Fawdar becomes first to win MRC Best Young Mauritian Scientist 2015

Dr Shameem Fawdar becomes first to win MRC Best Young Mauritian Scientist 2015

Dr Shameem Fawdar became the first scientist ever to win the Best Young Mauritian Scientist 2015 title for her outstanding work in advancing cancer research, and is currently in process of setting up a cancer project on the genetic background of breast cancer in Mauritius. (Image: Composite)

Dr Shameem Fawdar became the first scientist ever to win the Best Young Mauritian Scientist 2015 title for her outstanding work in advancing cancer research, with focus on breast cancer.

She was given the honours at an award ceremony organised yesterday by the Technology, Communication and Innovation (TCI) Ministry in collaboration with the Mauritius Research Council (MRC) at Cyber Tower 1 in Ebène.

Dr Shameem Fawdar is presently setting up a cancer project on the genetic background of breast cancer in Mauritius, in collaboration with Professor Theeshan Bahorun from the ANDI Centre of Excellence for Biomedical and Biomaterials Research.

Dr Fawdar expressed her passion for science and deemed MRC’s initiative ‘a great incentive and encouragement for young scientists,’ calling for collaborative support in the endeavour to advance cancer research.

The Best Young Mauritian Scientist Award is a novel incentive of the MRC aimed at recognising the efforts of young Mauritian scientists and researchers of no more than 35 years old, in the fields of Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and Technology, through an open competition.

This year, 22 entries were received and evaluated by a jury panel of local experienced intellectuals, chaired by renowned local research expert and professor, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim.

The Best Young Mauritian Scientist competition awards the winner a cash prize of Rs 100,000, a trophy and a recognition certificate. Two runner-ups were also named and rewarded: Dr Swaleha Hudaa Bibi Neetoo, who won the second prize of 75,000, and Dr Kessen Shunmoogum Patten, who received the third prize of Rs 50,000. Besides, all three winners also received support to a maximum of Rs 50,000 for a short term attachment in a University abroad for a research or study tour.

The ceremony also saw the presentation of awards to winners of the second edition of the Mauritius Research Council Post Graduate Conference 2014 held in October 2014, where some 21 students from the natural sciences and engineering as well as social sciences fields presented their respective MPhil/PhD project.

TCI Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth noted in his key note address that this event presented the opportunity to celebrate youth, science and excellence in research and to recognise young scientific talents, stressing the necessity to practice excellence in the fields of science and technology.

In this new era of innovation, he advised the young scientists to cultivate, besides brilliance, the ability to to work in teams and to collaborate with colleagues from other disciplines as well as acquire entrepreneurial skills.

While commending the MRC for organising the award, Minister Jugnauth also urged the Council to pursue these incentives that further engage the youth in the emerging culture of innovation.

According to the Minister, young people have a major role to play in developing an innovation-driven nation, and as such, the brilliant young scientists will be called upon to contribute to the achievement of the second economic miracle.

Elaborating on the endeavours to pave the way for innovation to take place, Mr Jugnauth announced that the Ministry with the assistance of the MRC and in collaboration with other stakeholders has already embarked on the drafting of the first National Innovation Policy, which will provide the required framework for collaborative initiatives involving the private sector, Government and academia.

He added that a national Innovation scoreboard will be developed “with a view to measuring our progress towards the destination of Innovative Mauritius and benchmarking ourselves with other countries while also identifying areas to strengthen our competitive advantage.”

The TCI Minister is envisaging the setting up of three ‘doers of innovation’ namely the International Institute for Technology, with the collaboration of IIT Delhi; the National Biotechnology Cluster comprising of a regional network of organisations spearheading biotechnological initiatives; and a high-powered computing centre which will provide the country with state-of-the-art computing hardware and software.

He concluded on the note that funds to the tune of Rs 125 million have already been earmarked to implement some of the projects this year.

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