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US sanctions on Iran are hindering progress on scientific research

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, center left with white turban, leaves at the conclusion of a session of the parliament to debate on his proposed Cabinet in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. In what is expected to be three days of debate ending Wednesday, legislators will vote individually to approve or reject each minister in Rouhani's 18-member Cabinet. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi
Iranian scientists are effectively considered his employees.
By Siraj Datoo
IranPublished Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

US sanctions against Iran are getting in the way of improving human health, Saleh Zahediasl, a professor of physiology at Tehran’s Endocrine Research Center, wrote in medical journal The Lancet.

In his open letter, Zahediasl cites the American Journal of Cardiology as rejecting a submission from one of his colleagues because he was employed the Iranian government. New sanctions against Iran, passed by the US Congress in December, mean employees of US journals can’t “handle” manuscripts produced by scientists employed by the Iranian government.

The work in question focused on non-preventable diseases and, according to Zahediasl, “could have contributed potentially to improving human health.” But it had to be rejected once received by the journal.

Some might argue that this isn’t a loss to academia. These researchers can still publish in Iran, and their work can be picked by international medical databases. Yet a 2012 paper by Farzaneh Aminpour suggests that isn’t so easy. She claims that of 156 Iranian journals, only 6 were included in Medline, a medical information database. Only 22% of Iranian journals were included in the Web of Science.

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