Dr. Hayat Sindi
Dr. Hayat Sindi is one of the world’s leading biotechnologists and a global champion of science and technology. She is a pioneering, inspirational female leader, working to improve the lives of people around the world, through her resolute belief in the power of science, technology and innovation to solve the greatest development challenges.
The former Senior Advisor to the President of the Islamic Development Bank for Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Sindi was voted one of the BBC’s top 100 Women 2018, a list of inspiring and influential women from around the world. Her remarkable career includes co-founding and co-inventing ‘Diagnostics For All’ –a program to create affordable diagnostic devices for millions of people in impoverished regions– alongside a team from Harvard University. These innovative, inexpensive and point-of-care diagnostic devices require no power, water or trained doctors and can provide potentially life-saving medical results in minutes. In 2008, Dr. Sindi led the ‘Diagnostics For All’ business team to first place in Harvard Business School’s Business Plan Contest, in the social enterprise track, and also to first place in MIT’s $100K Entrepreneurship Competition in the same year (the first time ever that the same team won first place in both competitions in the same year).
Dr. Sindi graduated with honors from King’s College London in Pharmacology in 1995, and was the first woman from the Gulf region to obtain a PhD in biotechnology from the University of Cambridge. She was a visiting scholar at Harvard University, and her laboratory work at Harvard earned her a spot with four other scientists in a documentary film supported by the Executive Office of the President of the United States in order to promote science education among young people.
Dr. Sindi holds nine patents for a machine that combines the effects of light and ultra-sound for use in biotechnology in early detection of breast cancer. Along with her scientific activities, she participated in numerous events aimed at raising awareness of science among women, particularly in Saudi Arabia and the Muslim world.
Driven by a passion to develop entrepreneurial ecosystems that can transcend existing gaps between education and opportunity, Dr. Sindi launched “i2 Institute for Imagination and Ingenuity” in 2011. Through fellowships, trainings and mentorships, i2 seeks to empower and inspire the next generation of innovators so that they may realize their dreams and ultimately contribute to global development. In 2014, she received the Clinton Global Citizen Award for “Leadership in Civil Society” in recognition of her work in encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship among young people.
In 2017, Dr. Sindi was appointed as Senior Scientific Advisor to the President of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB). In this role, she has put science, technology and innovation at the heart of IsDB’s work, making it a powerful driver of economic growth and sustainable development. In 2018, she contributed to the launch of IsDB’s $500m Transform Fund and Engage platform –the first digital hub of its kind for the developing world– to support innovators find solutions to development challenges through the power of innovation.
In 2019, the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) exceptionally awarded Dr. Sindi one of the “TWAS Medal Lectures” in recognition of her achievements in biotechnology and her leading, inspirational role as a woman scientist putting innovation to the service of the developing world and promoting science education (it is unusual that TWAS awards a Medal Lecture to a non-TWAS member).
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Sindi engaged with several global health partners to develop innovative solutions to strengthen global supply of COVID-19 diagnostics by leveraging and building manufacturing capacity in IsDB member countries. She has also designed a dedicated initiative emphasizing the role of locally developed innovation and technology transfer in strengthening health infrastructure in IsDB member countries. In addition, she has provided advisory support for the establishment of biotechnology hubs aiming to leverage local innovations to improve local production capacity in essential medical health supplies.
Dr. Sindi has also led IsDB efforts in the joint initiative between IsDB and the International Atomic Energy Agency on saving women’s lives from breast and cervical cancer in low- and middle-income countries. Her leadership has contributed to establishing a unique $500m blended financing fund and launching a dedicated call for crowdsourcing innovative solutions under this initiative.
Dr. Sindi is frequently sought out as a commentator by international media outlets due to her passion for and insight in entrepreneurialism and innovation in developing countries. Her inspirational vision for empowering youth through science, technology and innovation has earned her several prestigious awards and nominations, including:
PopTech Social Innovation Fellow in 2009 and 2010, making her the first person to receive PopTech Science Fellowship in two consecutive years
Makkah Al Mukarramah Scientific Innovation Award, offered by HRH Prince Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud (2010)
Named as an emerging explorer by of National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers Program (2011)
Named by Newsweek’s as one of “150 Women Who Shake the World” (2012)
Named by Forbes as the second most powerful woman in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (2012)
Named by Newsweek and The Daily Beast as one of “150 Fearless Women” (2012)
Named Global Ambassador of Vital Voices Global Partnership (2012)
Named by CEO Magazine as 9th most powerful Arab woman and 3rd most powerful Saudi woman (2012)
Named one of “50 Academics and Think Tanks” by the prestigious Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin (2015)
Named one of 24/7 Wall St.’s 32 Amazing Women Inventors (2018)
Dr. Sindi’s high profile and internationally recognized contributions have seen her appointed on several esteemed panels and boards, including the following:
Appointed in 2012 by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for her efforts in promoting science education in the Middle East, especially for girls
Appointed in 2013 by the Prime Minister of Malaysia in his Science and Innovation Advisory Council to support the country’s Vision 2020
Appointed in 2013 among the first 30 women to sit in the Shura Council, Saudi Arabia’s consultative assembly
Appointed in 2013 by the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the newly constituted UNScientific Advisory Board, comprising 25 global experts and providing advice to the UN’s leadership on science, technology and innovation for sustainable development
Appointed in 2015 as Honorary Advisor to the UN Environment Programme for the Eye on Earth Summit
Appointed in 2016 by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a 10-member group to support the Technological Facilitation Mechanism for the Sustainable Development Goals
Appointed in 2017 as Senior Advisor to the IsDB President for Science, Technology and Innovation
Appointed in 2019 by UNESCO Director-General in the five-member international jury of the UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education, funded by the Government of the People’s Republic of China
Appointed in 2020 as a Global Ambassador for the G20 Health and Development Partnership by Alan Donnelly, Convener of the G20 Health and Development Partnership and Executive Chairman of Sovereign Sustainability and Development
Appointed in 2020 as a member of the Advisory Board of the Islamic Finance News
Appointed in 2020 as a member of the Advisory Board of the Islamic Finance News
Appointed in 2021 as a member of GEFI Global Steering Group (“GSG”)
Appointed in 2022 by Ms Audrey Azoulay, Thé Director-General of UNESCO, as member of thé International Jury of thé Félix Houphouët-Boigny - UNESCO Peace Prize, together with other prominent figures.
Appointed in 2023 an Honorary Fellowship of Newnham College, University of Cambridge.