Pontus Marine

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sudanese world-renowned Manchester scientist and researcher passes away

(Medeshi)- A leading Manchester scientist and globally-respected researcher has died.
Tributes have been paid to Sudanese-born Dr Layla Zakaria Abdel Rahman, who studied at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST).


A renowned expert in the field of biological technology, she passed away at her home in Didsbury aged 59 last Saturday after a fight against cancer.

Dr Layla, a mother-of-two, uncovered a radically new method of growing sugar cane.

The breakthrough, which she made at her research laboratory near the former Manchester Science Park, meant the plant could be grown from seeds rather than the conventional stem cutting methods.

It led to cheaper and more productive cultivation in developing countries.

Friends said Dr Layla, who won national awards and earned global recognition for her work, was much-loved within Manchester’s Sudanese communities.

A funeral service took place at a mosque in Victoria Park yesterday (Tuesday) ahead of burial at Southern Cemetery in Chorlton.

Dr Layla, the granddaughter of a Sudanese tribal king, moved to Manchester to study in the late 1980s after completing her education in Sudan.

She had graduated from the University of Khartoum in Sudan and went on to complete a Masters degree and a Phd at UMIST.

Gaafer Ali, a close friend and secretary of Manchester Sudanese Cultural Society, said companies sponsored her research in Manchester. He said: “She had a tremendous and wonderful career. It shows what sort of a person she was.

“She came from a humble background but achieved so much success and was an amazing person. She had an ability to get people to love her. She broke boundaries in her field.

“She will be very sadly missed and was a wonderful human being.”

Dr Layla’s breakthrough involved taking cells from plant leaves, shoots or roots and growing them in a liquid culture to produce artificial seeds able to germinate. For years, scientists funded by the sugar industry had been trying to find ways to increase crop yields, without success.

But her results and patented techniques garnered global attention and attracted interest from huge research and production companies across the world.
- Manchester