First Chinese Nobel Prize Laureate: Chinese Dream & Pride

Source: chinadaily.com.cn, BBC News Beijing & Wikipedia

Tu Youyou
Tu Youyou

The honour of being the first Chinese Nobel Prize winner goes to a lady Youyou Tu who won half of the Medicine prize with the other half shared by two others William Cambell & Satoshi Omura.

William C Cambell
William C Cambell
Satoshi Omura
Satoshi Omura

Tu was awarded half of the prize for discovering artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced the mortality rates for patients suffering from malaria.

“It’s a virtue to remain indifferent to honor or disgrace.”
The old Chinese saying should be the best footnote on the landmark chapter when Tu Youyou became China’s first Nobel Laureate in medicine. This Nobel Prize that the Chinese have dreamed of for so long is an important international recognition of Chinese medical staffs’ contribution to the world, so the Chinese have good reason to be proud of it. Tu was awarded the prize because she discovered Artemisinin in a health project, Mission 523, in the 1970s, which effectively helped the worldwide battle against malaria.

As a medical researcher without a doctor’s degree, international experience or the title of academician, Tu was first to bring Artemisinin to the project, first to extract it and first to carry out clinical tests.

The academician system has made a major contribution to China’s economic growth, scientific and technological progress as well as the development of the defense industry. And China has advanced in research on quantum communication, neutrino, stem cells and high-performance computers, no matter whether Nobel Prizes are awarded to Chinese or not.

The amazing thing is that Tu Youyou is not a medical doctor, nor is she a Ph.D. holder or has any international research qualification or credential. The point to emphasise is that Tu Youyou was helped by ancient Chinese remedy in winning this Nobel Prize in Medicine

The United Kingdom, United States, Russia and Sweden have academician systems much longer established than China. Many don’t have a chance to stand in the spotlight as a Nobel Prize winner, either. But that doesn’t hinder them to make great achievements in their own countries.

The Nobel Prizes always spark controversies because of the committee’s “secret selection procedures” and according to many renowned scientists the awards, established in 1895, can’t match the rapid development of science today.

Ironically, the questionable award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama has proven to be the greatest controversy.

Image copyright
Reuters
The 84-year-old’s route to the honour has been anything but traditional.

Tribute should be accorded to Tu Youyou for her knowledge & relentless research in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which is fast claiming its rightful place & recognition in the field of medicine.

Tu described as being modest was born in Ningbo, Zhejiang, China on 30 December 1930. She attended Xiaoshi Middle School for junior high school and the first year of high school, before transferring to Ningbo Middle School in 1948. From 1951 to 1955, she attended Peking University Medical School / Beijing Medical Collage.Tu studied at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and graduated in 1955. Later Tu was trained for two and a half years in traditional Chinese medicine.
After graduation, Tu worked at the Academy of Chinese Medicine (now the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences) in Beijing. She was promoted to a Researcher (研究员, the highest researcher rank in mainland China equivalent to the academic rank of a full professor) in 1980 shortly after the Chinese economic reform began in 1978. In 2001 she was promoted to academic advisor for doctoral candidates. Currently she is the Chief Scientist in the Academy.

As of 2007, her office is in an old apartment building in Dongcheng District, Beijing.
Before 2011, Tu had been obscure for decades, and is described as “almost completely forgotten by people”.
Tu is regarded as the Professor of “Three Noes” – no postgraduate degree (there was no postgraduate education then in China), no study or research experience abroad, and not a member of any Chinese national academies, i.e. Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering.Up until 1979, there were no postgraduate degree programs in China, and China was largely isolated from the rest of the world.

Tu is now regarded as a representative figure of the first generation of Chinese medical workers since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. – (Source: Wikipedia.)

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