|Biographical detail : ||A leading Pakistani scientist in Natural Product Chemistry
Called the last Renaissance man, Dr Salimuzzaman Siddiqui, a leading Pakistani scientist in Natural Product Chemistry, is credited for pioneering the isolation of unique chemical components from the Neem, Rauwolfia and various other flora. He was a polymath of social and natural sciences. He was a chemist, philosopher, artist, a critic of literature and a visionary of science.
At the eve of World War I, he moved to University College London to study medicine but was later urged by his elder brother, Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman, to go to Germany for studying Chemistry as it was the best place for this field. He went to the University of Frankfurt.
During time consuming chemical procedures, he sketched many pieces. In 1924, Siddiqui’s first drawings were displayed at the Galerie Schames in Frankfurt. The second exhibition of his paintings was held in 1927 at the Uzielli Gallery, Frankfurt, and on that occasion he received a thousand gold mark – his first earning in life.
In 1927, Salimuzzaman Siddiqui completed his doctorate. He published more than 300 research papers and obtained 40 patents mainly from the field of natural product chemistry.
After his return to India, at the newly established college of research on traditional medicine led by Hakim Ajmal Khan, Dr Siddiqui, as a pioneer of research, found nine new alkaloids from Rauwolfia Serpentina.
Alkaloids are useful chemicals that occur naturally in plants or trees. Morphine, caffeine and quinine are the few examples of such compounds. Dr Siddiqui named them as ajmaline, ajmalanine, ajmalacine, isoajmaline and others, dedicating them to Hakim Ajmal Khan.
The world found amazing healing effect for blood pressure, cardiovascular and mental diseases in the alkaloids discovered by Dr Siddiqui. Many pharmaceutical companies translated them into drugs and earned tens of millions of rupees.
Similarly he also discovered an effective treatment of dysentery – an inflammatory disease of intestine causing blood and mucus in the feces – by extracting many important medicinal compounds from a plant called Holarrhena antidysenterica.
In 1966, Dr Siddiqui was called the ‘the father of Holarrhena chemistry’ in a conference at Prague University, in then Czechoslovakia.
Dr Siddiqui wrote 18 research papers on Holarrhena chemistry. He also worked on many medicinal plants and extracted vital chemicals from them. Study of Neem tree – the natural drug factory – was another passion of his research.
He wrote more than 15 research papers on Neem (Melia Azadirachta) and also discovered many important chemicals and isolated three new crystalline triterpenoids called nimolicine, nimoline and 17-B-hydroxyazadiradine.
In 1940, Dr Siddiqui became the Director of the Indian Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (ICSIR), Calcutta.
In 1951, on the request of Liaquat Ali Khan, Dr Siddiqui came to Pakistan and established many laboratories under an umbrella institute named Pakistan Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR). Modern laboratories were later established at Lahore, Dacca, Rajshahi, Chittagong and Peshawar.
Dr Salimuzzaman Siddiqui can be considered as a pioneer of research and development in Pakistan. He also established Pakistan National Science Council and was appointed as its first chairman in 1961. In the same year he became the Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS).
Dr Salimuzzaman Siddiqui won notable awards; Fellow of the Royal Society, Hilal-e-Imtiaz, MBE, Pride of Performance, Sitara-e-Imtiaz, and Tamgha-e-Pakistan.
Born in Subeha, district Bara Banki, India. Salimuzzaman Siddiqui absorbed the literary tradition of Lucknow and finished his BA in Persian literature and Philosophy.