Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman obtained his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Kings College, University of Cambridge (1968). He has 1315 international publications in several fields of organic chemistry including 797 research publications, 83 international patents, 69 chapters in books and, 367 books published largely by major U.S. and European presses. He is the Editor-in-Chief of several European Chemistry journals. He is Editor of the world's leading encyclopedic series of volumes on natural products "Studies in Natural Product Chemistry" 74 volumes of which have been published by Elsevier Science Publishers under his Editorship. During the last two decades, eighty three students have completed their Ph.D. degrees under his supervision.

He was elected as Fellow of Royal Society (London) on 14th July 2006, Prof. Rahman won the prestigious UNESCO Science Prize (1999). The Austrian government has honoured him with its highest civil award (“Grosse Goldene Ehrenzeischen am Bande") (2007) in recognition of his eminent contributions.

He has been conferred honorary doctorate degrees by many universities including: degree of Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) by the Cambridge University (UK) (1987), Honorary degree of Doctor of Education by Coventry University UK (2007), Honorary D.Sc. degree by Bradford University (2010), Honorary Ph.D. by Asian Institute of Technology (2010) and Honorary Doctorate degree from King of Malaysia (University of Technology, Mara, 2011). 

He was appointed Academician (Foreign Member) of Chinese Academy of Sciences (2015).  Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman has won the International Scientific Corporation Award by Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) for building scientific collaborations between China and Pakistan (2014). Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman was honoured by President Xi Jinping of China when he was conferred the highest scientific award of China, the International Science & Technology Cooperation Award, at a special function in the Great Peoples Hall in Beijing (2020). He was awarded the prestigious “Einstein Professorship” by Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in 2013. He won the highest “Friendship Award of China” on September 28, 2014. Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman is a member of the Korean Academy of Science and Technology (Foreign Member).

He was elected Honorary Life Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge University, UK in 2007. Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman was conferred the TWAS (Italy) Prize for Institution Building in October 2009 in recognition of his contributions for bringing about revolutionary changes in the higher education sector in Pakistan. 

Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman is the President of Network of Academies of Science in Countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference (NASIC). Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman has been elected as the president of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences twice from 2003-2006 and 2011 – 2014. He is President of Network of Academies of Sciences of Islamic Countries (NASIC), Foreign Fellow of Korean Academy of Sciences, and Foreign Fellow of the Chinese Chemical Society. 

In recognition of his global outstanding services to the development of Science and Technology the largest university in Malaysia, University of Technology Mara, Malaysia UiTM, has established an institution entitled, “Atta-ur-Rahman Institute on Natural Product Discovery (AuRins)” in 2013. The leading Chinese University on Traditional Medicine in Changsha, Hunan named a major research institute in honour of Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman (“Academician Professor Atta-ur-Rahman One Belt and One Road TCM Research Center”) in October 2019 in recognition of his eminent contributions to uplift science in Pakistan and to establish strong linkages with China. The National University of Science and Technology (NUST) has also established an Institute “Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences (ASAB)” at their university in Islamabad in 2011. 

Prof. Atta-ur Rahman was appointed as Chairman of Prime Minister’s Task Force on Science and Technology (2018), Vice Chairman on Prime Minister’s Task Force on Technology Driven Knowledge Economy (2018), and Co- Chairman of Prime Ministers Task Force on Information Technology on Technology Driven Knowledge Economy (2018). 

He was the Federal Minister for Science and Technology (14th March, 2000 – 20th November, 2002), Federal Minister of Education (2002) and Chairman of the Higher Education Commission with the status of a Federal Minister from 2002-2008. Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman is the most decorated scientist of Pakistan having won four civil awards by the government of Pakistan, including Tamgha-i-Imtiaz (1983), Sitara-i-Imtiaz (1991), Hilal-i-Imtiaz (1998), and the highest national civil award Nishan-i-Imtiaz (2002).

Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman was the Coordinator General of COMSTECH, an OIC Ministerial Committee comprising the 57 Ministers of Science & Technology from 57 OIC member countries from 1996 to 2012. He is Distinguished National Professor as well as Professor Emeritus at Karachi University. He has developed the finest research Center in the region, the H.E.J. Research Institute of Chemistry, International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences, University of Karachi which is now internationally recognized as the UNESCO Center of Excellence.