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Monday, 26 September 2016

Dr. Mahaletchumy Arujanan


Dr. Mahaletchumy Arujanan

The Klang-born biotechnologist was recently nominated in the Top 100 most influential people in her particular field. She helped develop resolution for Muslim countries on the use of genetic modifications (GM) through dialogues with religious scholars. She is internationally active in influencing policies, regulations and biotechnology communication to ensure the potential of this field benefits agriculture, medical and industrial sectors.

  • How did she do it?

    "We are not completely atheists or free thinkers, so ethics and religion here are important. So we have to see like cloning, what is it for, why do you want to do it? There are so many issues.

    We engage ulamas as well. So what we did here was to organise a dialogue with scientists and ulamas. We wanted scientists to understand what are the Islamic principles and the ulamas to understand what exactly happens in these science processes. Ulamas will be able to make decisions not just based on Shariah principles but also scientific knowledge.

    In the Philippines, there was this blanket fatwa from the Ulama Council saying that all genetic modification (GM) is haram. We had these dialogues with the ulamas and we came up with this resolution. So then, the Philippines lifted their fatwa and said it is haram only if the genes come from porcine sources… many countries were watching and read the resolution we came up with and they started being more open to biotech. Malaysia also has a fatwa that says the same thing. GM is allowed only if the source is not porcine. Which is fair to all."
Mahaletchumy Arujanan


I am the Executive Director of MABIC and Editor-in-Chief of The Petri Dish: the 1st science newspaper in Malaysia. I won the 2010 TWAS Regional Prize for Public Understanding of Science for East, SEA and Pacific Region. As a pioneer in science communication in Malaysia, I built strong network among local and international stakeholders. I serve on several committees related to biotech education, policies and regulations. My interest is also on non-traditional approaches in communicating biotech.


- Transformed MABIC into an active and effective organisation that enhances public understanding of biotechnology, both locally and in the region
- Rebranded MABIC as a credible organisation that provides recommendations, direction and advice on biotechnology development in Malaysia.
- One of the major accomplishments is making MABIC partially financially self-sufficient through projects that are able to generate revenue.
- Successfully collaborated and created a link with all major biotech stakeholders in Malaysia, e.g. universities, research institutes, ministries, and government agencies
- Introduced non-traditonal approaches in communicating biotech, e.g. carnival, fashion show, school competitions
- Organized a large number of seminars, conferences, workshops, forum on creating awareness on biotechnology and in providing direction for biotechnology and bioeconomy development in Malaysia
- Managed to raise fund from both national and international organisations and agencies for Public Understanding of Biotechnology
- Listed as the 1100 most influential person in biotechnology in the world by Scientific American WorldView (2015)
- Listed as "Women in Biotechnology Law and Regulation" by Biotech Law Report (2015), Mary Ann Liebert, USA.
- Received the 2010 TWAS Regional Prize for Public Understanding of Science for Southeast, East and Pacific Region

Specialties: Biotechnology Communication, Regulations and Policies, Fund-raising, management and administration

Mahaletchumy Arujanan is a Malaysian scientist of Indian origin. She currently works as an executive director of Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre (MABIC).
Arujanan was born in Klang Valley, Malaysia in year 1969 to a Tamil school headmaster.[1] She has a bachelor degree in biochemistry and microbiology from University Putra Malaysia, and a Masters in Biotechnology and PhD in Science Communication from University of Malaya. She joined MABIC in Jan 2003 as a project officer and later took over as the executive director in May 2005.[2] She was listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the field of biotechnology by the 7th edition of The Scientist American Worldwide View: A Global Biotechnology Perspective Journal.[3] She founded the country’s first biotechnology newspaper, The Petri Dish. She is a recipient of 2010 TWAS Regional Prize for Public Understanding of Science for East, Southeast Asia and Pacific Region, and has been listed as one of the prominent women in biotechnology law and regulations by Biotechnology Law Report.[4]


Executive Director

Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre

 – Present (13 years 9 months)Bandar Sunway, Selangor, Malaysia
(Open)1 project
(Open)2 honors and awards
(Open)7 recommendations, including:
  • Behzad Ghareyazie

Behzad Ghareyazie
Founder, Agricultural Biotechnology Research Institute of Iran (ABRII)

  • Dr. Mahaletchumy Arujanan or as we call her; Maha is an example of a well organized, science oriented, well educated and...View
  • Piero Morandini

Piero Morandini
Researcher in Plant Physiology at University of Milan

  • Maha is a dedicated worker, well prepared to perform the tasks entrusted to her and with a broad understanding of the issues...View
5 more recommendations

Editor-in-Chief (The Petri Dish)

Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre

 – Present (5 years 9 months)
Initiated the first popular science newspaper in Malaysia. Aimed at bringing life sciences/biotechnology to the public domain to create better understanding and appreciation on this subject. Petri Dish is an organ for the scientific community to talk about their research. The newspaper covers all aspects of biotechnology - the science and research, commercialisation and business, regulations and policies, and ethics and religion. It plays a key role in inspiring students in STEM.

Petri Dish is distributed to research institutes, universities, schools, ministries and government agencies, biotech industry, ministers, hospitals and is available at Starbucks outlets.

Adjunct Lecturer

Monash University Sunway Campus

 – Present (1 year 2 months)Bandar Sunway, Selangor, Malaysia
Teach Module on Science Communication. Enhance the School of Science's engagement with biotechnology industry and link them to potential collaborators.


Industry Cluster of Excellence, Universiti Malaysia Pahang

 – Present (2 years)
Train undergraduates and post graduates in life sciences on biotechnology development and career prospects.

This is aimed at inspiring students excel in their science careers and guiding them on their career path.


Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation

 – Present (4 years 9 months)Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Train graduates in public and private universities under the Biotechnology Entrepreneurship Special Training (BeST) programme to support Human Capital and Entrepreneur Development for the biotech sector.

It is aimed at preparing graduates to be market-ready and inspire them to excel in their chosen careers.


University of Malaya

PhD, Science Communication

University of Malaya

M. Biotechnology, Biotechnology

Universiti Putra Malaysia

B.Sc (Hons), Biochemistry and Microbiology

- Received scholarship from the Malaysian Tobacco Company


  1. Jump up^ Kamlesh Kumar (27 September 2015). "10 things about: Mahaletchumy Arujanan, biotechnologist putting Malaysia on the world map"Malay Mail. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  2. Jump up^ http://www.bic.org.my/about-us/team
  3. Jump up^ Wani Mutthiah (20 June 2015). "Scientist from Klang does country proud"The Star. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  4. Jump up^ "Women in Biotechnology Law and Regulation"Biotechnology Law Report. 1 June 2015. pp. 107–118. doi:10.1089/blr.2015.28999. Retrieved 15 August 2016

Dr Mahaletchumy Arujanan

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