Imaginative Professor



Department of Phytopharmaceuticals (Traditional Pharmacy), School of Pharmacy, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran. Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.


Avicenna (980-1037 A.D.) in his famous “Isharat va Tanbihat” text indicated that human pleasure should be studied in four stages: sense, imagination, estimation and wisdom [1]. Imagination has received much interest in the recent publication [2], which possesses a deep influence on pleasure and resilience in complex and hard professions like academic staff with so many responsibilities, such as teaching, consulting, researching, group managing, and of course personal tasks. As an under- and post-graduate mentee of late Professor Dr. Seyed Hadi Samsam-Shariat (emeritus professor of Isfahan School of Pharmacy), I had the chance to live in the imaginative world of his professorship.
Teaching and training: None of Isfahan pharmacy students would forget his medicinal plants' lab atmosphere, imaginative well-designed natural products collected from local “Attaries”, common medicinal plants' herbaria vouchers, serial microscopes for examining herbal powders as well as a creatively contrived program for continuous teaching students by means of slides, authentic and unknown samples. This program was completed by visiting botanical garden, a student project for collecting and identifying herbal market as well as ethnopharmacologic samples, which was performed in a serious discipline. Such lab world encourages students' vitality and enthusiasm for following herbal products applications as the future pharmacy technical assistances and in other positions.
Research and publication: He published several texts and supervised around one hundred Pharm.D. and Ph.D. theses in the vast field of natural products, including ethnopharmacology, traditional medicine, natural product formulating, quality control and clinical trials of medicinal plants, and related subjects. As the father of Iranian ethnopharmacology, he did document native beliefs in phytotherapy from different geographical regions by conducting Pharm.D. theses. Such encountering with natives' information on local and indigenous medicinal plants and subsequent lab experiences was very imaginative and promising for young students.
Morality and group managing: He had a serious prestige, as a hard-working professor who began before students early in the morning, and he continued work till late evening. He did manage department of Pharmacognosy very well, in an unmerciful atmosphere against medicinal plants dialogue. Such deportment from a senior of faculty had a deep influence on feeling identity and self-confidence in disposed students.
Manufacturing: He, even after retirement, continued formulation and production of medicinal herbal products in a science-based company, as the last lesson of pharmacy teaching.
Apprentice: He was a permanent role model directly or indirectly for generations of students who did in turn contribute further in cultivating pharmacy students, establishing traditional Iranian pharmacy and medicine program, designing medicinal plant research centers and associations, managing quality control programs and setting up science-based companies.
In sum, late Professor Samsam-Shariat was a key contributor in the growing scientific tree of Iranian medicinal plants by composing students' imagination framework. The famous poet “Saadi Shirazi” (ca 1200 A.D.) well composed the imaginary power of a mentor:
I cannot façadeaught which its imagination has not been before composed by the teacher.
مرا صورتی بر نیاید زدست   که نقشش معلم ز بالا نبست
1. Avicenna H. Isharat va tanbihat. Trans. Malekshahi H. Tehran: Soroush Press, 2009.
2. Black DB. Imagination and estimation: Arabic paradigms and western transformations. Topoi. 2000; 19(1): 59-75.