As a rule of thumb, we feel proud when such discoveries happen at local institutions because we can relate to them somehow.
Today, I feel even prouder because the man that discovered this reaction was my professor at AUB.
Makhlouf Haddadin, a Jordanian professor, has discovered a new reaction which he called the Davis-Beirut reaction, after ten years of testing during which he didn’t come out on Lebanese TV shows to discuss his science, to boost himself among the Lebanese populace, to get some free advertising, etc.
This isn’t his first discovery as well. Prior to Lebanon’s civil war, Dr. Haddadin discovered a reaction which he called the Beirut reaction and which has caused AUB’s Chemistry department to get a huge boost ever since.
According to Dr. Haddadin, his new reaction might serve as a breakthrough in the treatment of cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening disorder that mostly manifests in the lungs. You’d probably recognize it as the disease that killed French singer Gregory LeMarchal. It currently has no cure.
My most memorable memory with Dr. Haddadin wasn’t the organic chemistry course I took with him during my Sophomore year. It was when I went to his class on May 7th, 2008 and we were almost 10 people and he gave us a talk about the merits of the country we were in.
He told us that what was happening outside the fences of our campus was reminiscent of things that took place around the civil war in Lebanon. He told us about student uprisings, about how democracy doesn’t work by canceling other opinions, how democracy doesn’t work via violence.
He also told us how lucky we were to be Lebanese, how lucky we were to come from a country where scientific discoveries weren’t stifled by a state that was worried about what such discoveries might entail, how fortunate he was to be working in this country where he felt he could give his all without having a big brother eye overlooking his every experiment, how grateful he was for Beirut to have welcomed him so warmly. He told us that was why he named the reaction he discovered back then after the city that he loved.
He then begged us not to waste our country away because we didn’t know the value of what we had, given the region in which we lived.
Between 2008 and 2013, I daresay we as Lebanese have probably failed Dr. Haddadin. But this man is still grateful to Beirut nonetheless.