Undergraduate Cancer Researcher wins Goldwater Scholarship

The news release below regarding the breakthrough work of Iranian undergraduate Cancer researcher FrederickGhandchi was provided on the Georgetown University Website on April 17, 2012.


A Georgetown undergraduate who already has completed three years of biomedical research that includes one year on cancer, has been awarded the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.

Frederick Ghandchi hopes to one day lead research projects on the molecular biology and genetics of cancer.

Frederick Ghandchi, who will graduate in the spring of 2013, interned at the Children’s National Medical Center and NIH before working in the lab of Todd Waldman, a Georgetown associate professor of molecular oncology.

Ghandchi is one of only 282 individuals nationwide out of 1,123 math, science and engineering students to win the nationwide scholarship. The award covers the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board for one or two years up to $7,500 annually.

I felt very excited to have won the scholarship, because I know that it will open many opportunities to me,” says Ghandchi, who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in molecular biology.

Incredibly Focused

I plan to become a principal investigator in a medical center environment, such as the NIH, and head my own basic research projects on the molecular biology and genetics of cancer,” he adds.

Waldman, who holds a large 5-year NIH grant to study the role of specific genes in brain cancer, calls Fred “incredibly focused.”

Fred is super, super smart and very passionate about biomedical research,” Waldman says. “He is already absolutely certain he’s going to do a Ph.D. in molecular biology, which is unusual among sophomore undergraduates.”

Ghandchi started out as a member of the Class of 2014, but is expected to graduate a year early.

Genes and Cancer

The young scientist is also part of Georgetown’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) program, which allows undergraduates to choose a faculty mentor to work with over the summers.

Waldman says Ghandchi is working on two different cancer genes (PTEN and P53) in terms of how they may regulate each other.

These genes are very important in human cancer,” Waldman says. “We work on their role in brain cancer, but they are important for many other tumor types as well.”

It looks like they talk to each other,” he adds. “We’re not sure, but maybe Fred will figure it out. It’s understood that to some extent they regulate each other, but the mechanism is poorly understood and how that relates to them possibly causing cancer is also poorly understood. ”


In addition to Waldman, Ghandchi says he is grateful to Joseph Neale, the university’s Paduano Distinguished Professor in the biology department who co-directs the HHMI Program.

The student says he also appreciates associate professor of biology Heidi Elmendorf for “showing me that biology is more than memorization by focusing on problem solving and the big picture in class and on exams.”

Waldman was pleased to hear that his student had won the scholarship.

Fred is very deserving of this prestigious recognition, and I am delighted the Goldwater foundation chose to honor him,” he says.

World’s Oldest Example of Pictorial Animation

Shahr-e Sookhteh (lit. Burnt City) is one of Iran’s most important archaeological sites dating to the  Bronze Age. Located near Zahedan, Seistan-Baluchistan in southeast Iran, Shahr-e Sookhteh was first excavated in 1915.

Shahr-e Sookhteh is an urban settlement which can be traced to four eras of civilization on the Iranian plateau.The settlemtn has yielded its own unique brands of architecture, arts and technologies, and provide much insight into the antiquity of Iranian civilization.

Remains of the Shahr-e Sookhteh (lit. Burnt City). Recognized as the largest Bronze Age site in the Middle East, the entire environs of the site measure at 150 hectares. Shahr-e Sookhteh was founded around 5000 years ago (circa 3200 BC) and was first destroyed in 2100 BC. During the course of its approximately 1100-year existence, Shahr-e-Sookhteh has given rise to four distinct civilizations. 

Iranian archaeologist  Dr. Mansour Seyed Sajjadi (who has researched Shahr -e Sookhteh for years) noted in an interview with the Tehran Times on March 1, 2012 that:

With every step that we took the soil under our feet moved aside, revealing more fragments of clay works. We were told that after each rain the earth is washed away causing more fragments come to the surface, where they can be easily found by the excavation team. The moment we touched the clay fragments that were buried under the soil we got a strange feeling that reminded us of our Oriental background and this feeling made us search for our lost identity within the Burnt City

One of the most interesting discoveries at the site has been a 5000 year old goblet which bears the world’s first animation sequence. The animation depicts a goat jumping towards a tree to eat its leaves.

Goblet with painting depicting a jumping goat (Source: Tehran Times). The Farmes can then seen in a “film fashion” when placed on a rotating turntable.  This concpet was developed over 5000 years ago in the Shahr e Sokhteh, long before the advent of cinematography by the early 20th century.

The goblet is the first evidence of the human conception of  image frames being connected together to produce an animation sequence. It is possible that a manual turntable was used to rotate the goblet to “animate” the frames.

[CLICK TO ENLARGE]Animation sequence of the jumping goat as seen in a flattened panel (Source: Tehran Times). See the actual animation sequence in the video below.  

Animation sequence of the 5000 year old Goblet of Shahr e Sookhteh.

There have been numeous finds at Shahr e Sookhteh such as the discovery of the world’s first artificial eye (see below):

(RIGHT) Iranian researcher examining the artifical eye found at Shahr e Sookhteh – further tests are being conducted in Iran to determine the exact chemical composition of the prosthetic (LEFT) A curious feature of the “eye” are parallel lines that have been drawn around the pupil to form a diamond shape …READ MORE

Other discoveries include the excavation of the most ancient known version the backgammon game  (see below)

Ancient dice discovered at the Burnt-City. At present, experts are (a) attempting to determine why the game was played with sixty pieces and (b) working to decode the rules of the game. Iranians call Backgammon “Takht-e Nard”…READ MORE…see also more pictures by clicking here

Dr. Manouchehr M. Khorasani: Traditional Iranian Martial Arts


Dr. Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani, the world’s leading expert on the history of Iranian and Oriental arms. armour, firearms and traditional Iranian martial arts.See for example Dr. Khorasani’s lecture at M.I.T. on Iranian arms and armor from the Bronze age to the Qajar era. For more information on Dr. Khorasani’s works, consult his list of publications.

Note that Dr. Khorasani is the only person to have obtained two awards of academic merit in the field of Iranian Studies – he won the Book the Year Award in 2009 and well as the Book of the year Award in 2012. Dr. Khorasani’s first book (recipient of the 2009 award), Arms & Armor from Iran: The Bronze Age to the End of the Qajar Period is also unique in that it is the first textbook of its kind to provide an exhaustive and detailed compendium on the history, development, description and analysis of Iranian arms and armor from the bronze age to the Qajar era.

Dt. Khorasani “Lexicon of Atms and Armor from Iran (which won the 2012 award) is the first academic book ever to be written on the lexicon and terminology of Iranian arms and warfare.

To rrder these books, please click on the Legat Publishers link or order directly from LEGAT Publishers: Alexander Frank (alexander.frank@legat-verlag.de)Tel. +49 (0) 70 73 / 30 24 49; Mobile +49 (0)179 / 453 61 21


The pictures seen below will appear in Dr Khorasani’s upcoming text:  “Persian Archery and Swordsmanship: Traditional Martial Arts of Iran” .


[Click to Enlarge] Historical weapons of Iran (kard, khanjar, separ, gorz, tabar, neyze, akenakes, shamsher sasani, qame, qaddare, ir va kaman, pishqabz/deshne): part of the upcoming book by Dr Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani “Persian Archery and Swordsmanship: Traditional Martial Arts of Iran” to be published soon

[Click to Enlarge] Koshti jangi (war wrestling) part of the upcoming book by Dr Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani “Persian Archery and Swordsmanship: Traditional Martial Arts of Iran” to be published soon.


[Click to Enlarge]  Traditional workouts from the Zoorkhaneh (lit. House of Power) along with traditional Iranian martial arts and archery techniques. Dr. Khorasani has done much to restore and revive traditional Iranian martial arts.


[Click to Enlarge]Razmafsar


[Click to Enlarge]War wrestling (koshti-ye jangi). 


[Click to Enlarge]War wrestling (koshti-ye jangi)

[Click to Enlarge]Razmafzar: Persian swordsmanship and traditional martial arts of Iran

[Click to Enlarge]  Razmafzar, Dr. Khorasani’s project of reviving Persian/Iranian martial arts and swordsmanship is going very well. Now he has also our constitution (asasnameh) defining all steps and levels with names and techniques

[Click to Enlarge]Razmafzar: A Persian Fighting Art based on Persian manuscripts


A Glance at the Ancient Lezgians of the Caucasus


The Lezgians of the Caucasus are the direct descendants of the ancient Albanians.. Lezgian culture has had a profound impact on the culture of Iran as well: one enduring aspect being the Lezgian dances which remian popular throughout the Caucasus and northern Iran.

Wall bricks from an ancient Lezgian structure in Koosar, modern-day Republic of Azarbaijan (known as Arran or Albania untuil May 1918). (Courtesy of Enver Abdulayev, Leader of the Lezgian Youth Organization of the Russian Federation).

Strabo writing at around the 1st century AD notes in the Geographica that the people of Iranian Azarbaijan (known as Media Atropatene at the time of Strabo who lived in 64/63 BC-23 AD were Iranians with Persian as their language (Strabo 11.13.1). Book 11 of the Geographica cites the Araxes River as the boundary between Atropatene (Iranian Azarbaijan) and Albania. Pliny confirms Atropatene as having been situated south of the Araxes River.

In addition to Strabo, other Classical sources such as Arrian (who lived in 92-c. 175 AD) and Justin (Justin 23.4.13) cite the region north of the Araxes River as “Albania” and south of the Araxes as “Media Atropatene”. The people of Albania were of mainly of Ibero-Caucasian stock (Hewson, 1982, p. 27-40) with the people speaking “…twenty-six languages, because they have no easy means of intercourse with one another” (Strabo, Geographica, Book 11, Chapter 14). Iranian settlers arrived from Atropatene during the Mede, Achaemenid, Parthian and Sassanian eras, and mixed into the population.

At the time of Alexander’s conquests the Achaemenid satrapy of Media included  much of Iranian Kurdistan, Luristan, parts of Iraqi Kurdistan, the Iranian plateau up to Hyrcania in the north and Iranian Azarbaijan to the northwest.

A rare collection of Lezgian daggers and swords from south Daghestan (circa 17-19th centuries AD).

To the north of Azarbaijan, across the Araxes River, was Albania (named as  Republic of Azerbaijan since May 1918). The latter shared borders with Iberia to its west; Colchis stood to the west of Iberia. The Armenians were mainly situated to the south of Iberia-Colchis. The inhabitants of Albania (the indigenous ancestors of the Albanians), Iberia and Colchis were generally descendants of the Caucasian speaking peaples. Prior to the Indo-European arrivals, Azarbaijan and Albania had been heavily influenced by Urartians, Hurrians, Mannaeans and possibly the Cadusians.

Another view of the ancient Lezgian structure in Koosar, modern-day Republic of Azarbaijan.(known as Arran or Albania untuil May 1918) Note the circular patterns and designs on the beam (Courtesy of Enver Abdulayev, Leader of the Lezgian Youth Organization of the Russian Federation).

Iranian Azarbaijan (south of the Araxes River) had been Iraniancized by the Medes as well as Scythian invaders from the Ukraine. Zoroastrianism became widespread in Azarbaijan after Cyrus’ overthrow of king Astyages of the Median Empire. Albania also became profoundly influenced by Zoroastrianism, where some of the oldest fire temples survive to this day. Albania had been conquered by Median king Cyaxares in the 7th century BC but the region south of the Araxes River is the historical location of Azarbaijan in Iran.



Lezgian wall decoration patterns 10-11th centuries AD. These are from the Mehrab of the ancient Lezgian mosque near the village of Lotghun in Daghestan (Courtesy of Enver Abdulayev, Leader of the Lezgian Youth Organization of the Russian Federation).