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Dr. Rana Dajani: One Of The World’s Leading Muslim Female Scientists

As well as being a scientific genius, she is making sure women and children in the region are doing well professionally, educationally and mentally..

Jordan initiated the development of the Stem Cell Research Ethics Law and consequent regulations as a result of Dr Rana Dajani’s genome-wide association studies on diabetes and cancer on stem cells on ethnic populations. However, the Jordanian-Palestinian-Syrian authority on the genetics of the Circassian and Chechen populations in the Hashemite Kingdom has also been making another kind of difference at the country’s Hashemite University. The go-getting scientist, who has been working as a full-time tenured professor there since 2019, is undoubtedly a leading light for her female students hoping to make it big in the medical field.

Dajani, an expert in molecular genetics, metabolic syndrome and induced pluripotent stem cells, worked as an Associate Professor at the Zarqa-based university for six years before her current position. A Biology graduate from the University of Jordan, Dajani has used problem-based learning and service learning as well as drama and art while teaching Biology, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics to her undergraduate and graduate students. The trailblazer, who went on to earn a Ph.D. in Cell/Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Iowa, has also worked as an Assistant Professor and Director for Centre of Studies at the Hashemite University, where she has held an impressive number of different duties too. Dajani, an advocate for the biological evolution theory in relation to the religion of Islam, has also been associated with Amman’s Amman Academy and Philadelphia University.

From 2017-2018 the Fulbright scholar alumna, who was among seven to receive the inaugural IIE Global Changemaker Award, was a Rita E. Hauser Fellow, Visiting Professor at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The following three years, she was the 2019-21 Zuzana Simoniova Cmelikova Visiting Scholar at the University of Richmond’s Jepson School of Leadership Studies. Armed with an Eisenhower Fellowship too, Dajani additionally has visiting professor at Yale University’s Yale Stem Cell Center and visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge and Jordan’s Stem Cell Therapy Center on her CV.

As well as being a higher education reform expert and scientist, Dajani is a mother of four and feminist. The genetics authority strongly believes in the education and empowerment of women. In addition to being the President of the Jordan Chapter for the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World, which provides research training and networking opportunities for women scientists, she is an advisor for the UN Women Jordan Advisory Council. Dajani, a seasoned public speaker, is also the founder of the Three Circles of Alemat Mentoring programme for female scientists in the Arab world, which was formed in response to the low representation of women in academia and the challenges they face. The toolkit, which earned her the 2014 PEER Award, inspires women “to create social networks to advance their professional life and boost their personal well-being,” according to the website.

Dajani is also author of “Five Scarves: Doing the Impossible—If We Can Reverse Cell Fate, Why Can’t We Redefine Success?” The book looks into how the hurdles women face in academia differ across varies across cultures, religions and disciplines. It also highlights how women have faced the challenges in various ways. Additionally, Dajani has written in “Nature” about education and females in the Arab world. The expert, who has also written for “Science,” also organised the first gender summit for the Arab world in 2017.

The barrier breaker, who wears many scarves and is president of the Society for Advancement of Science and Technology in the Arab World, can add social entrepreneur to her super impressive feats as well. She is the founder and director of We Love Reading, which was created to foster a love of reading in young children around in the region. The non-governmental organisation is based on holding read aloud sessions on a routine basis in a public space and has established multiple libraries across Jordan. The project that encourages refugee and Jordanian children to read for pleasure with their parents has earned Dajani many awards, including the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Middle East, the Stars Award for Impact 2015, a WISE Award for Innovation in Education and the 2009 Arab World Social Innovator Award by Synergos.

Dajani’s astounding career has earned her a plethora of other accolades too. In her homeland, she has received the Order of Al Hussein for Distinguished Contributions of the Second Class, granted to "those who have made distinguished contributions to society." She also earned the King Hussein Cancer Institute for Cancer and Biotechnology Award 2009, a place in the American embassy’s Women in Science Hall of Fame 2015 and the Jordan Star of Science in the Biology category. As well as all the the nods, whether local, regional and international, the super scientist has been mentioned on various female power lists, whether it’s in “Arabian Business,” “CEO Middle East” or “Muslim Science.” 

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