Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (Persian: 980 – June 1037 CE), commonly known in the West as Avicenna, was a polymath who is regarded as one of the most significant physicians, astronomers, philosophers, and writers of the Islamic Golden Age and the father of early modern medicine. Of the 450 works he is believed to have written, around 240 have survived, including 150 on philosophy and 40 on medicine. His most famous works are The Book of Healing, a philosophical and scientific encyclopedia, and The Canon of Medicine, a medical encyclopedia which became a standard medical text at many medieval universities and remained in use as late as 1650. Besides philosophy and medicine, Avicenna's corpus includes writings on astronomy, alchemy, geography and geology, psychology, Islamic theology, logic, mathematics, physics, and works of poetry.

Iran’s educational system

First Part: Rankings of Iranian Universities and Higher Education Institutes
Currently, the Islamic Republic of Iran is ranked 15th worldwide in terms of science production based on the report of Web of Science 2021. Iran’s science production according to the latest update of Web of Science on November 28, 2021 shows that the Hirsch index (in short H index) of Iran is 383, which is reflective of the high quality of Iranian scientific articles.

A review of Iranian publications indexed in international databases displays that in 2021, 172 publications were indexed in ISI database and 286 publications were indexed in Scopus database. Iran ranks 41st in 2021 in terms of H index. Also, Iran’s index is 376 in terms of the quantity of scientific articles.

Times Higher Education (THE), which annually publishes the updated rankings of the world’s top universities, included 47 Iranian universities among the world’s top universities in its latest report; a number which has increased by 7 universities compared to its previous year. Thus, it can be concluded that by including 47 Iranian universities among the 1527 top universities from 93 countries in the world, Iran has made astonishing academic progress. Moreover, according to Shanghai Ranking 2020, Iran ranked 1st in terms of the number of universities in the region and among Islamic countries. Among the Iranian universities indexed in THE ranking, Sharif University of Technology, Iran University of Science and Technology, and Amir Kabir University of Technology are the top Iranian universities in terms of industrial income index. In terms of research index, in addition to these three universities, University of Tehran and University of Shiraz are also listed among the top Iranian universities. Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences and Golestan University of Medical Sciences rank first and second among Iranian universities in the citation index.

The latest update of the SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) shows that in the period from 1996 to 2020, the United States of America, China, England, Germany and Japan enjoy the top 5 ranks. According to SJR 2019, Iran made significant progress in terms of the scientific quality and quantity of publications compared to 2018. Publishing a total number of 64,744 articles, Iran is the 15th country worldwide in terms of publications’ scientific level. According to these surveys, among the Iranian universities, the medical field enjoyed the highest number of articles published internationally, amounting to 17,636 in total. This field was followed by engineering with 16,209 articles, physics and astronomy with 9395 articles, and material science and chemistry with 9443 and 8414 articles, respectively. Other fields including biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology, computer science, mathematics, chemical and agricultural engineering, and biological sciences published the most scientific articles in 2019.

According to the results published by the SJR database, Iran ranked 54th worldwide with 850 scientific articles. However, in 2020, the number of Iranian scientific articles increased to 74,440, indicating an increase of 86.57 compared to 1996, and Iran’s rank was upgraded to 16th in 2016.

Iran’s scientific position in the Nature Index 2021 is 35, although the latest update of this international system for science production reports has not been completed yet. This rank was 33 in 2020.

In the latest version of the Nature Index ranking, which was updated on March 14, 2023, Iran is among the first 30 countries, whereas it was ranked 32nd in 2022. Based on the four general subject areas of physics, chemistry, earth sciences, environmental sciences, and biological sciences, the Islamic Republic of Iran acquired the highest ranking in physics which was 27. There are 95 public and private universities and research centers in this ranking, among which, University of Shiraz is ranked #921 in the world and the 1st in the country.

The CWTS ranking (Center for Science and Technology Studies) also furnishes information on the scientific performance of universities across the world. In this ranking, universities are selected based on the number of publications indexed in WoS for a four-year period. The universities included in this ranking are selected by a set of indicators specified CWTS. It collects the articles published by universities and indexed in the WoS database. An important limitation of this ranking relates to specific research fields, especially computer science, engineering, social sciences and humanities.

According to the latest version of CWTS ranking 2022, a number of 44 Iranian universities were among the top 1318 universities in the world, whereas in 2021, 36 Iranian universities were included in this ranking. The indicators examined in the CWTS ranking include scientific authority, scientific diplomacy, open access to publications and gender diversity. The data on the universities’ scientific production were extracted from the WoS database for the time period 2017-2020. Regarding scientific impact index, the top ten Iranian universities included University of Tehran, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Amir Kabir University of Technology, Sharif University of Technology, Iran University of Science and Technology, and University of Tabriz.

Physics and Astronomy
According to the latest report of SJR ranking based on scientific articles published in 2020, Iran was ranked 1st in the Middle East and 14th in the world in the field of physics and astronomy.

The reports published in SCImago Journal & Country Rank show that Iran ranks 1st  with a number of 7,929 articles published in the field of physics and astronomy. After Iran, Turkey ranks 2nd with 4,887 articles, followed by Saudi Arabia.

Iranian HCR Researchers 
A number of fourteen Iranian researchers were included in the list of the world’s highly cited researchers (HCR). This annual list identifies researchers in the sciences and social sciences who have had a broad and significant impact. Such impact is reflected in the publication of highly cited articles during the last decade. These researchers are one in a thousand or in other words, the top one tenth (0.1) percent in proportion to the total global population of scientists and social scientists.

The number of citations of highly cited papers is one of the main indicators for selecting the HCR researchers. Based on the received citations, these articles are included among the top one percent in one or more subject areas in the WoS database. Researchers are selected according to the ESI (Essential Science Index) index in 21 subject areas. Further, from 2018 onwards, cross-disciplinary researchers are also classified under a separate discipline. Based on these indicators, a number of 7225 researchers were selected as the HCR researchers in 2022. There were 14 top researchers from the Islamic Republic of Iran in the 2022 HCR researchers list.

Further, in the list of Stanford University, which is a collection of several separate citation indices, the number of citations of articles, their authorship patterns (e.g., co-authorship) and the H-index are calculated. In the latest version of this database, there were 1,870 Iranian researchers and 409 international researchers affiliated with the Islamic Republic of Iran out of the total number of 200 thousand researchers. There are 80 Iranian universities which enjoy five 2% HCR researchers.

In addition, the Iranian HCR researchers are not equally distributed in various subject areas. The clinical medical field enjoys the highest percentage of the top 2% HCR researchers. This field is followed by other fields including, engineering, strategic technologies (artificial intelligence, Nano-technology, etc.), chemistry, information and communication technology, 

physics and astronomy, agriculture, fisheries and forestry, earth and environmental sciences, statistics and mathematics and biomedicine.
Also, the number of Iranian top 1% HCR researchers displays that in a four-year period, the number of researchers has grown by about 340%. The number of Iranian scientists included in this list from 2018 to 2022 was 249, 361, 512,685 and 841 respectively.

Part Two: Iran’s Scientific Advances
Many indigenous technologies compatible with Iran’s climate practically did not exist before the Islamic Revolution of Iran, and production was restricted to a handful of traditional handicrafts and products. Moreover, Iranian technicians could only serve as operators for foreign equipment. However, this process has changed over the past decades, and our country has gained numerous scientific and technological achievements in sciences and fields such as nuclear, Nano, biotechnology, rockets, stem cells, Aerospace, recombinant drugs. Such advances have proved that we can reach the highest peaks of science and technology. 

Iran has always been one of the top countries in the world in the field of nanotechnology. According to the report of the StatNano database, which publishes all data related to nanotechnology, in 2019, 2021 and 2022, Iran was ranked 4th in terms of publishing articles related to nanotechnology. Iran ranked 4th in this report after China, America and India.

In 2015, a total number of 6,690 articles related to nanotechnology were published by Iranian researchers, equaling to 4.72% of all nanotechnology articles published in 2015. With such share of nanoscience production, Iran ranked 7th worldwide as in 2014, whereas it ranked 57th in the world and 6th in the West Asia with the publication of 10 articles in 2001, when Iran Nanotechnology Innovation Council (INIC) had not yet been established and only a few Iranian scientists were familiar with this emerging technology. Throughout the following years, Iran experienced an upward trend in the production of Nano sciences, such that it reached from the annual publication of 10 Nano articles to the daily publication of 18 Nano articles. The average annual growth percentage of Iran’s Nano-related articles was about 51% between 2001 to 2015. This number of Nano-related articles includes about one fifth of the whole scientific articles in Iran. In general, the number of scientific articles is considered as a parameter for measuring the scientific growth of researchers, universities and countries, and it reflects their scientific efficiency. According to StatNano’s report, more than 42% of the world’s Nano-related publications in 2021 were written and published by Chinese researchers. China is followed by the U.S.A, India and Iran with 11.5%, 9.4% and 5.5% respectively. Currently, Iran has progressed from the production of 10 Nano-related articles in 2001 to the annual production of over 12,500 articles in this emerging science, after which it surely witnessed the development of technologies and nanotechnology products. 

In total, 306 knowledge-based companies have developed Nano products, of which 246 companies have been operating in the product development sector and 60 companies have been operating in the device development sector. By the end of the September 2021, these companies produced more than nanotechnology 783 products and devices, all of which have received all the required approvals and entered the market. However, 750 devices and products were produced by the end of 2020. Among these 783 registered products and devices, 566 were related to Nano products and 217 were related to Nano equipment. The Nano products of these companies are also exported to more than 41 countries across the world, including South Korea, Australia, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia, Turkey, England, Germany, Spain, France, Latin America, Canada and African countries; Therefore, the geography of exporting Nano products is very wide.

Stem Cells
Iran ranks 1st regionally and 13th globally in the scientific production on stem cells. More than 160 knowledge-based companies are operating in the country and 21 cell transplantation centers render services to people in this field.

In the development of knowledge-based companies specializing in the sciences and technologies of stem cells and regenerative medicine, Iran has now reached such a high level that it is ranked 13th in the world and can gradually begin to export technologies and products.

Having produced 6 approved regenerative medicine products, Iran ranks 5th in terms of offering cell-based products in the world.

On the other hand, there are leading institutions in the field of cell research, such as Royan Research Institute. Further, over the recent years, more than 200 active gene therapy centers have been established in the country, and now Iran’s Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Center has been approved by the Ministry of Health and Medical Education.

A number of 11 comprehensive stem cell centers is planned to be founded in Iran, of which 8 centers will operate under the Ministry of Health and Medical Education and the 3 others under the supervision of Royan Research Institute and the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology.

Space Technology
Iran is also a leader in the field of space technologies in the Middle East and is among the top ten countries in the world. In general, there are 10 countries in the world which really have space technology, including the U.S.A., Russia, China, Japan, India, Iran, England, Ukraine, Brazil and Germany. Iran's global rank upgraded from 45th in 1996 to 11th in 2017. Meticulous planning for attracting the talented and young elites, and building on knowledge and innovation led to adopting great steps such as the launching of the Omid satellite with the indigenous Safir launch system in 2008. After that, Iran joined the limited club of countries with the ability to design, build and launch satellites.

After that, Fajr, Tolou and Pars Sepehr satellites were designed and built. Pars Sepehr can be launched at a higher altitude and with a heavier weight than the previous ones. Relying on the endeavors of our country’s committed engineers, our country’s space program is enjoying a growing trend in various sectors of the aerospace and satellite industry.

Over the past years, in line with the peaceful use of space technologies and applying satellite information by Iranian experts in various fields, Iran’s space program has put the manufacture, launch and operation of various satellites on its agenda.

Sina-1 satellite was the first satellite which the Islamic Republic of Iran launched through a Russian launch vehicle. Sina-1 was jointly built by Iranian and Russian scientists and was a joint experience between the two countries to improve the ability of domestic specialists and get familiar with the achievements of the leading countries in the field of aerospace. The launch of the Sina-1 satellite made the Islamic Republic of Iran one of the 44 countries with satellites in space.

Iran is also one of the leading countries worldwide in the field of pharmaceuticals. It stands among the top countries in manufacturing all kinds of drugs and vaccines, and in using all types of modern treatment methods for incurable patients, such as radiation therapy, radiation therapy, and nuclear medicine. Among the medical advances achieved by Iran, one can allude to: obtaining the 1st regional rank in drug production and the 8th global rank in drug production, producing 97% of required drugs, exporting drugs, including biotechnology drugs, achieving self-sufficiency in the production of vaccines, eradication of polio and other widespread diseases, reaching vaccination coverage from 30% to 100%, increasing the number of hospitals and medical centers, succeeding in giving priority to prevention over treatment and finally increasing life expectancy, reducing the mortality of children under one year of age and reducing maternal mortality. All these achievements can be regarded as a medical evolution in Iran. Further, Iran is currently ranked 4th in the production of recombinant drugs in Asia, and it has so far produced 14 recombinant drugs. Recombinant medicine is mainly used in the treatment of incurable diseases such as cancers, some viral diseases, MS and hemophilia. Iran is also considered one of the leading countries in the world in biochemistry, genetics and bimolecular sciences, and is currently ranked 16th worldwide in these fields.

Iran has always been one of the leading countries in the production of vaccines. Nearly one century ago, two vaccine- producing research institutes started operating at around the same time: Pasteur Institute of Iran and Razi Vaccine and Serum Rsearch Institute. After a few years, both succeeded to not only get enriched in vaccines production, but they were also ranked 1st in the Western Asia. Iran has always been one of the production center of excellences for typhoid, BPH, measles and polio vaccines in the world. Over the recent years, with the COVID-19 pandemic, Iran was one of the first countries to produce vaccines such as COVIran Barekat, PastoCovac and SpikoGen, all of which played an undeniable role in controlling this disease.

According to the statistics of the Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Iran is ranked 7th worldwide in the production of recombinant drugs, and is included among the top 10 countries in the production of drugs.

The production of the world’s first anti tropical sore Nano drug, breaking the monopoly of recombinant drugs by Iranian experts, the mass production of an anti-cancer drug called “doxorubicin liposome” with Nanotechnology, and the production of first pen insulin in the world, are the most important achievements of the last 2 years in the field of pharmaceutical industry. The continuation of this path seems to lead to a transformation in the pharmaceutical industry of Iran.

Medicine and Medical Devices
The first artificial trachea with the help of tissue engineering was made by Iranian researchers in the world. The scholarly research on artificial trachea started about 10 years ago. This project has been one of the most difficult parts of making an organ because producing a naturally-looking tracheal cartilage is a highly complicate process. Taking into view that trachea is not a simple physical duct, but consists of a very complex and brittle inner lining, its artificial construction also requires a special technique that Iranian researchers have been able to achieve.

The production of the first smart tissue adhesive in the world is another medical achievement obtained by Iranian researchers. Tissue adhesives are being used across the world for more than two decades, but these adhesives were not well received due to the problems they cause for human tissues. The smart tissue adhesive which has been produced by Iranian scientists is autologous; that is, it is derived the blood of the person him/herself. The title of ‘smart’ refers to the fact that different concentrations are used for soft tissues, nerves, arteries and even bones. In addition, its tensile strength can be changed and can be used in all medical areas. The most important applications of this tissue adhesive are the possibility of transplanting blood vessels, nerves and bones.

The artificial vessel was made from biocompatible and biodegradable nanofibers by Iranian researchers. This artificial vessel was produced using nanotechnology and tissue engineering. This plan is expected to reach clinical use in at least three years and at most 10 years. It aims to cultivate “squamous” and muscle cells on both sides of vessel, and if successful, the main transplant can be also performed.

Royan Research Institute produced embryonic stem cells and hence made Iran among the top 10 countries which have achieved this technology. After the U.S.A., Australia, Sweden, England, India, South Korea, Japan, and Singapore, Iran succeeded in producing these cells.

The first newborn conceived through IVF (in vitro fertilization) in Iran was born in 1992, the second newborn conceived through microinjection was born in 1994, and the first newborn conceived through PGD (Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis) was born in 2004, all three cases being born at Royan Research Institute.

Iran’s first cloned sheep was born in 2005 through the efforts of Iranian researchers. Royana is a cloned Afshari lamb which was born in the process of cloning in an egg whose nucleus was removed.

Further, Iranian researchers were able to produce mice from mouse embryonic stem cells for research laboratory animal models. These animals are used as models and are prepared with the help of stem cells.

Iranian researchers succeeded to achieve self-sufficiency in the production of human fibroblast growth factor protein and create new lines in the research sector in three different aspects and achieve indigenous technology for the production of human fibroblast growth factor protein.

The injection of Schwann Cells to repair spinal injuries was first developed as a safe treatment by Iranian researchers, and the clinical results of this research were made publicly available after 10 years, in order that the Schwann Cells-injection treatment be successful in patients with spinal injuries. Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Research Center of Tehran University of Medical Sciences is conducting research on three projects including the injection of Schwann Cells, the injection of stem cells and olfactory sensory cells. The injection of Schwann Cells into patients with spinal injuries is an innovative method which was first conducted successfully by Iranian scientists. In Russia and China, stem cells have been used to treat spinal cord injuries, but in Iran, the injection of Schwann Cells for spinal injuries has been successfully performed on several volunteer patients.

In 1990, Iranian researchers were able to perform a bone marrow transplant for the first time in Iran. Since then, they have celebrated the 2,000th bone marrow transplant. Fourteen types of diseases can be cured with the help of bone marrow transplantation and cell therapy.

Over the last two years, Iranian pharmacists have succeeded to produce a great number of drugs such as, recombinant factor VIII drugs to treat blood diseases and hemophilia, Herceptin (trastuzumab) to treat breast cancer, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) vaccination to prevent meningitis in children, recombinant FSH drug to treat infertility, CinnoPar hormonal (PTH) drug for the treatment of parathyroid disorders, G-CSF pack for bone marrow transplantation and hematopoiesis after chemotherapy, Etanercept for the treatment of joint swelling, Leuprolide for the treatment of prostate and lung cancers and warfarin as an anticoagulant drug. 

Several laboratory kits were made by experts in our country to diagnose diseases such as hepatitis C, syphilis, infertility, hormonal disorders and blood problems.
The linear accelerator (known as LINAC) for cancer diagnosis and treatment was built in our country. This device is used in radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer tumors. It prevents radiation from spreading to other tissues and enjoys both pinpoint quality and accuracy.

Iran’s Medical Industry During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In Iran, unprecedented achievements were obtained in the medical devices industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. While many countries of the world were suffering from acute shortage of medical devices and products in the beginning of the pandemic, Iranian producers, despite international sanctions, and with the help of various sectors, including governmental institutions, not only met the domestic medical needs in the shortest time but also managed to export drugs and devices to other countries.

The glaring advances in producing medical products has enabled Iran to export medical devices to 54 countries in the world, which is reflective of the growth and the ability of the Iranian activists of medical devices industry.

The spectacular advances in the field of biotechnology has made Iran to be among the top 14 countries in the world in this field.
 According to the Center for Biotechnology Information, the Islamic Republic of Iran enjoys an outstanding position among the countries of the region in terms of high scientific ability and competence.

Currently, several research institutes and universities of medical sciences are operating in this field. The private sector is also actively participating through the development of biopharmaceutical industries, such that they are able to design and implement large-scale projects for the production of biological drugs with the help of various engineers. The next group is the field of agriculture, where agricultural universities and faculties, research centers affiliated to the Ministry of Agriculture Jihad or the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology (research institutes) are operating in this field. The private sector also operates in manufacturing some agricultural inputs, such as pesticides, biofertilizers, modified seeds and seedlings. The next group is industrial section, which is engaged in various industrial activities such as traditional biotechnology (production of various industrial, chemical, medical or nutritional products by building biotechnological factories), production of various organic acids such as citric and acetic acid, and the production of various food and industrial enzymes (enzymes used in soft drinks, dairy products, starch, and leather industries). The next group is the biological treatment systems of industrial wastewater, in which the private sector plays a substantial role in the design and implementation of biological wastewater treatment systems. Over the last few years, owing to the above-mentioned industrial needs (medicine, agriculture, industry, etc.), the private sector has entered a new field called biotechnological equipment manufacturing, in which biotechnology equipment is produced in the upstream, production and downstream sectors by private companies. 

Power Plants
After the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, a tremendous transformation occurred in the electricity industry relying on domestic capacities, such that upon the 40th anniversary of the Revolution, the whole country now enjoys electricity, electricity is exported to neighboring countries, several renewable energy power plants have been built to produce electricity in various parts of the country and Iran now is self-sufficient in the electricity industry and has exceeded the neighboring countries in many aspects.

Considering the fact that the electricity network has grown in recent years and the power generation capacity has increased in power plants, Iran is able to enter the field of electricity export or energy to/from neighboring countries
According to the statistics of the Ministry of Energy, Iran has electricity exchanges with eight neighboring countries, the largest exporting portion of which has been to Iraq over the last five years.

Artificial Intelligence
Fortunately, Iran enjoys high potentials in terms of having elites and is ranked 13th worldwide in publishing scientific articles and having technical knowledge. It has also been able to obtain the first place in the region in terms of having reliable databases. The SCImago ranking database at the University of Granada, has provided statistics on Iran’s progress in artificial intelligence. According to this database, Iran is ranked 1st regionally and 15th globally in terms of artificial intelligence research and innovation.

At present, artificial intelligence has been successfully applied in various areas including, the development of security systems such as facial recognition, manufacturing production and industrial intelligent robots and devices, improving speech recognition systems such as converting text to speech and vice versa, and designing games and applied fields of education. 

Fortunately, the field of artificial intelligence in Iran has been enjoying a desirable job market for several years. There are many companies which have started operating in this field. In addition, with the development of online and data-driven businesses in Iran, the need for data extraction and interpretation is increasingly growing. In general, in line with the global developments in artificial intelligence and the increasing demands for artificial intelligence specialists, the need for artificial intelligence specialists will also increase in Iran and the artificial intelligence job market will all the more expand.