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PKU alumna wins Lasker-DeBakey Award

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Peking University, Sept. 15, 2011: On Sept.12, the 2011 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award was announced to be awarded to Chinese scientist Tu Youyou (from China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences), who discovered the drug artemisinin which saved millions of lives all over the world. This award is known as a prestigious medical award, which is also the biggest award that Chinese biomedicine has hitherto received.


Source: Sciencenet


The Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award is awarded by the Lasker Foundation for the understanding, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and cure of disease. Each year since 1946, it has been presented to those who have made remarkable contributions to the biomedical field. The Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award is considered to rank only second to the Nobel Prize for biomedicine. Up till now, there have been 80 Lasker winners who have also won a Nobel Prize, including 28 Nobel Prize winners in the recent 20 years. For this reason, the Lasker Award is also regarded as the “US Nobel Prize” or a bellwether for the Nobel Prize.


Tu Youyou, 81, was matriculated at Peking University (PKU) School of Medicine in 1951. She studied at the Department of Pharmacology, and graduated in 1955. Tu Youyou used to work as deputy director at China Academy of Chinese Medical Research, and she is now the Chief Scientist in the Academy. In early 1970s, she and her team found artemisinin and its utility for treating malaria; she then finally succeeded in isolating the active treatment ingredient, artemisinin. In 1979, she won the second National Prize.


Professor Rao Yi, dean of PKU School of Life Science, Professor Li Runhong and Professor Zhang Daqing, published an article online introducing Tu Youyou and her research. They pointed out that though who was the first one to discover artemisinin still remained disputed, however, her research method (using ether to extract artemisinin) was considered as the key to this discovery.


Extended Reading:

2011 The Lasker Award Description


Written by: Qian Xin

Source: PKU News (Chinese)