Mahaletchumy Arujanan

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Personal details
Born 25 May 1969
Nationality Malaysian
Spouse Selvamuthu Raja
Children Komalah & Deepa
Parents Arujanan Periasamy and Mariyayee. S
Official positions
Global Coordinator ISAAA
Executive Director Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre
Editor-in-Chief The Petri Dish
University of Malaya PhD (Science Communication) (2013)
University of Malaya Masters in Biotechnology (1997)
Universiti Putra Malaysia B.Sc (Hons) (Microbiology and Biochemistry) (1993)
Finalist Women of the Future SEA 2019 (Mentor) Women of the Future Awards SEA (2019)[1]
100 Most Influential People in


in the world

Scientific American Worldview (2015)
Women in Biotechnology Law and Regulation Biotechnology Law Report, Mary Ann Liebert (2015)
Great Women of our Time Malaysian Women's Weekly (2015)
Regional Prize for Public Understanding of

Science (Southeast Asia, East Asia and

the Pacific


Third World Academy of Science (2010)
Arujanan in Penang, Malaysia giving a talk on her career journey
Arujanan giving a talk at a workshop in Chiang Rai, Thailand on communicating agribiotechnology

Mahaletchumy Arujanan is a Malaysian scientist of Indian origin. She currently works as an executive director of Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre (MABIC).

Arujanan was born in Klang Valley, Malaysia in year 1969 to a Tamil school headmaster.[2] She has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and microbiology from University Putra Malaysia, and a Masters in Biotechnology and PhD in Science Communication from University of Malaya. She joined MABIC in Jan 2003 as a project officer and later took over as the executive director in May 2005.[3] She was listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the field of biotechnology by the 7th edition of The Scientific American Worldwide View: A Global Biotechnology Perspective Journal.[4] She founded the country's first biotechnology newspaper, The Petri Dish. She is a recipient of 2010 TWAS Regional Prize for Public Understanding of Science for East, Southeast Asia and Pacific Region, and has been listed as one of the prominent women in biotechnology law and regulations by Biotechnology Law Report.[5] She was also recognised as the Great Women of Our Time by the Malaysian Women's Weekly in their Dec 2015 issue[6]

Early and tertiary education

Mahaletchumy Arujanan started her primary and secondary education at Convent Klang and continued her pre-university (STPM) at ACS Klang. She then pursued her bachelor's degree in University Putra Malaysia, majoring in Microbiology and Biochemistry and graduated in 1993. With an ambition to become a scientist, she immediately continued her Masters in Biotechnology at University of Malaya and graduated in 1997.


Arujanan took a break from academic life after graduating with her Masters to explore work life and her career interest and started her career as a Technical and Admin Officer with Sandoz Agro Chemicals, a Swiss-based multinational company in 1992. This is where she was exposed to multinational work culture, professionalism and integrity. However, her stint at Sandoz did not last long as the company merged with Ciba Geigy and the regional office she was working was closed down and Arujanan was retrenched. She then joined The International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, now known as Bioversity International as a Programme Officer. Being ambitious and looking to create a niche for herself, Arujanan found her tasks at IPGRI was not challenging enough for her. She left the job after 2 years to join a healthcare company, DXN but found the work ethics there to be in contradiction to her values. She left DXN looking for another career and joined Total Health Concept just to realize that more time and efforts were spent on office politics then building a career. From 1999 to 2002, Arujanan was struggling to build a career and finally left Total Health Concept in 2002.

She then joined the Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre (MABIC) in Jan 2003 where she found her true calling and built a career as a science communicator. Arujanan joined MABIC as a Project Officer and was promoted to be the Executive Director in May 2005. MABIC is part of an international organization, The International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotechnology Applications (ISAAA). MABIC at that time was barely known to biotechnology stakeholders and was struggling to build its brand and image. Arujanan revamped MABIC, made efforts to introduce the centre to key ministries and government agencies and forged strong relationship with international partners. She started engaging with various stakeholders to create awareness on biotechnology.[7] This led her to being a pioneer in science communication in Malaysia. Under Arujanan's leadership, MABIC has become an household name among the biotechnology community in Malaysia. It has also emerged as a strategic partner to many key government agencies to promote biotechnology development in Malaysia. She was appointed the Global Coordinator of ISAAA on 1 May 2019.[8] She is now responsible for the entire network of ISAAA that has its presence in South East Asia, South Asia, East Asia, Africa, USA and Latin America.

Professional roles

Due to her contribution to the biotechnology industry and landscape in Malaysia, Arujanan is appointed to a number committees and advisory panels:

  1. FAO's International Consultant on Strategy for Public Participation and Outreach for Sri Lanka[9]
  2. Farming Future Bangladesh, Advisory Board Member[10]
  3. National Bioethics Council, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation[11]
  4. Selangor Bio Council[12]
  5. Industry Advisory Board, school of Science, Monash University Malaysia[13]
  6. Industry Advisory Panel, Biotechnology Programme, Nilai International University[14]
  7. Industry Advisory Board, School of Biosciences, Taylor's University[15]
  8. Industry Advisory Board, Biotechnology Programme, Sunway University[16]
  9. Industry Advisory Panel, Faculty of Resource Science & Technology, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak[17]
  10. Industry Advisory Board, Quest International University Perak[18]
  11. Adjunct Lecturer, School of Science, Monash University Malaysia[19]
  12. Ad hoc Committee, Biosafety, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Malaysia[20]
  13. Trainer/Consultant, Malaysian Bioeconomy Corporation[21]
  14. Trainer, Industry Cluster of Excellence, Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia[22]

PhD in Science Communication

Five years after being involved in the field of science communication at Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre, Arujanan felt the calling to do her PhD. She continued her PhD in science communication in University of Malaya and completed in 2013.[23] She is a pioneer in this field in Malaysia and has initiated a number of science communication activities to engage different target groups in Malaysia. She is involved in creating awareness on biotechnology, policies, regulations and STEM education and careers.

The Petri Dish

Arujanan is the founding editor-in-chief for the first science newspaper in Malaysia, The Petri Dish.[24] The newspaper was initiated to bring biotechnology to the public domain.

The newspaper started as a 12-page monthly in February 2011 with a circulation of 2,000 copies and has grown into a 20-page publication with 6,000 copies circulated to key stakeholders in the fields of science/biotechnology ranging from universities to research universities, government agencies, ministries, economic corridors, state offices, biotechnology companies and cabinet members in Malaysia. With a strong belief that science should reach the public, Arujanan made efforts to circulate The Petri Dish to shopping malls, private hospitals, Starbucks outlets, and secondary schools.

The Petri Dish is MABIC's tool to create public understanding of science/biotechnology, empower decisions makers with knowledge in science/biotechnology, encourage the younger generation to pursue STEM education and careers and create a science culture among the general public.

In Feb 2017, Arujanan took another step to bring biotechnology closer to the society by creating an on line portal for The Petri Dish[25]

Arujanan's contribution to biotechnology communication

  1. Arujanan initiated a number of dialogues between scientists and ulama (Islamic scholars) to bridge the knowledge gap between the two groups. In spite of being a non-Muslim, she immensely contributed towards Muslims countries by creating awareness on agriculture biotechnology and food security. Her initiatives translates into the adoption of a resolution urging Muslim countries to adopt agriculture biotechnology.[26] This is being used as a reference in Muslim countries.
  2. Arujanan introduced a number of non-traditional approaches to bring biotechnology to the public. One of it was through fashion show.[27] This was later adopted by her Kenyan counterpart.[28]
  3. Arujanan also introduced a carnival concept to create awareness on biotechnology to school students by engaging them with public speaking, debates, quiz, poster drawing and colouring competitions[29]
  4. Arujanan was also very actively involved in advocating for a balanced biosafety regulation.[30] She organized a number of conferences and seminars to create awareness among Malaysian scientists, policymakers, regulators and industry players on the need for a science-based biosafety regulation.
  5. Arujanan is a regular speaker around the world where she promotes agribiotechnology as a tool to ensure food security, alleviate poverty among farmers and sustainable development [31][32][33]

Arujanan's contribution to the society

Arujanan is an active speaker at schools and community events where she inspires young people to chase their dream and in unlocking their potential.[34] She believes in women empowerment, culture of excellence, science literacy, and English language proficiency among others.


  1. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Kamlesh Kumar (27 September 2015). "10 things about: Mahaletchumy Arujanan, biotechnologist putting Malaysia on the world map". Malay Mail. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Wani Mutthiah (20 June 2015). "Scientist from Klang does country proud". The Star. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  5. ^ "Women in Biotechnology Law and Regulation". Biotechnology Law Report. 34 (3): 107–118. 1 June 2015. doi:10.1089/blr.2015.28999.
  6. ^ The Weekly. "Science and Technology Nominee 2015: Dr Mahaletchumy Arujanan". Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  7. ^ Arujanan, Mahaletchumy (24 February 2017). "LinkedIn".
  8. ^ Crop Biotech Update. "New ISAAA Global Coordinator".
  9. ^ "LinkedIn". Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  10. ^ "LinkedIn". Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  11. ^ MOSTI. "Bioetika". Retrieved 24 February 2017. External link in |website= (help)
  12. ^ Muthaiah, Vani. "Boosting the state's economy". The Star. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  13. ^ Monash University (2015). "Inaugural Industry Advisory Board". Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  14. ^ Arujanan, Mahaletchumy. "LinkedIn". Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  15. ^ Arujanan, Mahaletchumy. "CV Arujanan". Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  16. ^ Arujanan, Mahaletchumy. "CV Arujanan". Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  17. ^ Arujanan, Mahaletchumy. "CV Arujanan". Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  18. ^ Quest, Quest. "Distinguished Biotechnology Industry Advisors at QIUP". Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  19. ^ Monash University. "School of Science". Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  20. ^ Arujanan, Mahaletchumy. "CV Arujanan". Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  21. ^ Arujanan, Mahaletchumy. "LinkedIn". Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  22. ^ Industry Cluster of Excellence. "ICoE". Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  23. ^ Student Repository. "University of Malaya". Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  24. ^ "The Petri Dish". Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  25. ^ "The Petri Dish". Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  26. ^ Shaikh Mohd Salleh, Shaikh Mohd Saifuddeen (2012). "International Workshop for Islamic Scholars on Agribiotechnology: Shariah Compliance" (PDF). Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  27. ^ Bernama (20 September 2010). "M'sia to host first ever Bio-fashion show at MyBio Carnival". Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  28. ^ Kebic. "Kenya Biotechnology Information Centre". Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  29. ^ ISAAA (2010). "MyBio Carnival: Where Passion Meets Fashion" (PDF). Retrieved 26 February 2017. External link in |website= (help)
  30. ^ Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (2007). "Law of Malaysia, Act 678, Biosafety Act 2007". Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  31. ^ TEDx (8 August 2016). "TEDx Talk: GMO: Seeds of destruction?". Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  32. ^ Embajada Estados Unidos en México (11 September 2015). "Dra. Maha Arujanan: Lo que necesitamos es tecnología". Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  33. ^ Public Research and Regulation Initiative (7 October 2016). "GM crops in Asia and Vandhana Shiva". Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  34. ^ Arujanan, Mahaletchumy. "Facebook". Retrieved 27 February 2017.