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Salimuzzaman Siddiqui

Salimuzzaman Siddiqui

Born19 October, 1897
Lucknow, British India
Died14 April, 1994
Karachi, Pakistan
Nationality Pakistani
FieldOrganic chemistry
InstitutionsH.E.J. Research Institute of Chemistry, Karachi University
Alma materAligarh University
Notable students  Atta ur Rahman
Known forNatural products research, chemical constituents of Azadirachta indica
Notable prizesHilal-e-Imtiaz, Sitara-e-Imtiaz, Tamgha-e-Pakistan, Order of the British Empire, Fellow of the Royal Society, Pride of Performance
Religious stanceSunni Islam

Prof. Dr. Salimuzzaman Siddiqui (1897-1994) was a leading Pakistani scientist in natural products chemistry, an eminent literary personality, a painter, and a great connoisseur of music.

He is the pioneer in extracting chemical compunds from the Neem (Azadirachta indica) and Rauwolfia, and is also known for isolating novel chemical compunds from various other flora in the Subcontinent. As the director of H.E.J. Research Institute of Chemistry, he carried out extensive research with a team of scientists on pharmacology of various plants to extract a number of chemical substances of medicinal importance.[1]


Early life

Salimuzzan was born in Subeha (Barabanki District) near Lucknow on October 19, 1897. He received his early education from Lucknow and soon developed interest in literature, poetry and calligraphy from his father Sheikh Muhammad Zaman. After completing his matriculation, he joined the Calcutta School of Arts, and was a pupil of Rabindranath Tagore, the founder of the famous Bengal School of painting. After graduating from M.A.O College, Aligarh University in 1919. In 1920, he proceeded to University College London to study medicine from where he moved to Frankfurt University where he received Doctor of Philosophy in 1927. On his return, he established the Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbi Research Institute at the Tibbi College Delhi, under the guidance of Hakim Ajmal Khan, which was inaugurated in 1931. He was appointed first director of the institute, a post which he left after Hakim Ajmal Khan’s death. In 1940, he joined Indian Council for Scientific and Industrial Research where he worked until 1951 when he migrated to Pakistan on the request of the Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan.[2]

Pioneering research

Siddiqui is known for research on the antiarrhythmic agent he isolated in 1931[3] from the roots of Rauwolfia serpentina. He named it Ajmaline, after Hakim Ajmal Khan[1] one of the illustrious practitioners of Unani system of medicine in South Asia. He also extracted other alkaloids from Rauwolfia serpentina that include Ajmalinine, Ajmalicine (C21H24N2O3), Isoajmaline, Neoajmaline, Serpentine and Serpentinine, most of which are used worldwide for treatment of mental disorders and cardiovascular ailments.[2]

He was also the first scientist to bring the Neem (Azadirachta indica) into the attention of natural products scientists. In 1942, he extracted three bitter compounds from neem oil, which he named as nimbin, nimbinin, and nimbidin respectively.[4] The process involved extracting the water insoluble components with ether, petrol ether, ethyl acetate and dilute alcohol. The provisional naming was nimbin (sulphur-free crystalline product with melting point at 205°C, empirical composition C7H10O2), nimbinin (with similar principle, melting at 192°C), and nimbidin (cream-coloured amorphous sulphur containing, melting at 90–100°C). Siddiqui identified nimbidin as the main active anti-bacterial ingredient, and the highest yielding bitter component in the neem oil.[5]

In Pakistan

After the emergence of Pakistan in 1947, he was entrusted by the Government of Pakistan in 1951 to organize scientific research activities. In 1953, he established Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) in Karachi, with regional laboratories in Decca, Rajshahi and Chittagong (East Pakistan), and in Lahore and Peshawar (West Pakistan). He remained the director and chairman of the organization until the time of his retirement in 1966. He subsequently became involved in establishing the Hussain Ebrahim Jamal Research Institute of Chemistry at the Karachi University as a center of research in the chemistry and natural products, until 1990. Later on, he continued research in his personal laboratory.

Awards and honors

Dr. Siddiqui was a founder-member of the Indian and Pakistan Academies of Sciences, and later a founder member of the international body the Third World Academy of Sciences. Among the many of his honours, following are the few

  • Gold medal of the Soviet Academy of Sciences
  • Hilal-e-Imtiaz, 1980
  • President of Pakistan's Pride of Performance Medal, 1966
  • Sitara-e-Imtiaz, 1962
  • Fellow of the Royal Society, 1961
  • President, Pan-Indian Ocean Science Association, 1960
  • Tamgha-e-Pakistan, 1958
  • D. Med. Honoris causa from the Frankfurt University, 1958
  • Foundation Fellow, Pakistan Academy of Sciences, 1953
  • Order of the British Empire in 1946.

In 1999, Pakistan Post issued a commemorative stamp to honor the contributions and services of Dr Salimuzzaman Siddiqui.

Other interests

  • Exhibition of paintings at Uzielli Gallery, Frankfurt, in 1927
  • Held first exhibition of his paintings at Frankfurt, in August 1924


He died on April 14 1994 in Karachi, buried in Karachi University Graveyard.


  1. ^ a b M. Akhtar (1996), Salimuzzaman Siddiqui, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, Vol. 42, November, pp. 400-417
  2. ^ a b A.N. Sandilvi (2003), Salimuzzaman Siddiqui: pioneer of scientific research in Pakistan. Daily Dawn. 12 April, 2003. Retrieved on 19 July 2007.
  3. ^ S. Siddiqui & R.H. Siddiqui (1931). Journal of the Indian Chemical Society, vol. 8, pp. 667-680.
  4. ^ S. Ganguli (2002) Neem: A therapeutic for all seasons, Current Science, Vol. 82, No. 11, June. pp. 1304
  5. ^ S. Siddiqui (1942), Current Science, vol.11, pp. 278–279

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Salimuzzaman_Siddiqui". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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