AKU honoured Professor El-Nasir Lalani, the Founding Director of the Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research as Professor Emeritus at the conclusion of his more than 14 years of extraordinary services to the University. AKU leaders, donors, CRM faculty and staff joined the farewell ceremony, hosted by President Sulaiman Shahabuddin, to acknowledge Professor Lalani's unrelenting commitment to advancing AKU's mission.
"This is not a farewell but a celebration to acknowledge Professor Lalani's many contributions to AKU'', said President Sulaiman.
Inspired by the Chancellor's vision, Professor Lalani left the UK at the peak of his clinical-scientific career to join AKU as the first University-wide Global Founding Dean of Research and Graduate Studies in July 2008. In his role as Dean, Professor Lalani spearheaded key academic, management and structural initiatives which set AKU on its course to become a research-led university. From designing a research roadmap, to developing and implementing policies and pre-award granting processes to promote impact-driven research, Professor Lalani sought the highest standards for scholarship and professional integrity in research at AKU.
During his time as Dean of Graduate Studies, Professor Lalani integrated global best practices into programme design and delivery to raise the standards of graduate studies. He chaired the AKU's Board of Graduate Studies for eight years and played a vital role in approving postgraduate programmes and setting regulatory frameworks for awarding degrees.
In July 2016, Professor Lalani transitioned from the Dean's position to lead the development of the Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research, identified as a priority research area by the Chancellor. In partnership with UCSF, Professor Lalani has led CRM through its start-up phase to recruiting a team of world-class researchers who are now seeing early results from their innovative work. In collaboration with the Resource Development Department and the Office of the President, Dr Lalani was integral to raising a US$ 10.5M endowment for CRM. From advocating for the mission of the Centre to engaging donors, partners, collaborators, and supporters, Professor Lalani has left no stone unturned in laying a solid foundation for CRM.
In recognition of his contributions to the growth and development of research at AKU and particularly to the advancement of knowledge in regenerative medicine and stem cell science, Professor Lalani received the Khatija and Mohan Manji Dhrolia Endowed Chair Award in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in 2021.
Professor Lalani leaves behind a legacy that will continue to inspire AKU researchers and academics to push the boundaries of knowledge and strive for excellence. Today, CRM embodies Professor Lalani's passion for materializing the Chancellor's vision for AKU to be at the leading edge of knowledge, going beyond what is already known to the unexplored realms of scientific discovery.