Tu Youyou (Chinese: 屠呦呦; pinyin: Tú Yōuyōu; born 30 December 1930) is a Chinese pharmaceutical chemist and educator. She discovered artemisinin (also known as qinghaosu) and dihydroartemisinin, used to treat malaria, a significant breakthrough in 20th-century tropical medicine, saving millions of lives in South China, Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America.
For her work, Tu received the 2011 Lasker Award in clinical medicine and the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura. Tu is the first Chinese Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine and the first female citizen of the People's Republic of China to receive a Nobel Prize in any category. She is also the first Chinese person to receive the Lasker Award. Tu Youyou was born, educated and carried out her research exclusively in China.
Tu Youyou, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, in Stockholm, December 2015.
|Born||30 December 1930|
|Alma mater||Peking University Medical School / Beijing Medical College (now Peking University Health Science Center)[note 1]|
|Known for||Discovering artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin|
|Awards||Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award (2011)|
Warren Alpert Foundation Prize (2015)
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2015)
Highest Science and Technology Award, China (2016)
|Institutions||China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine[note 2]|
|Academic advisors||Lou Zhicen|
My [first] name, Youyou, was given by my father, who adapted it from the sentence ‘呦呦鹿鸣, 食野之蒿’ translated as ‘Deer bleat “youyou” while they are eating the wild Hao’ in the Chinese Book of Odes. How this links my whole life with qinghao will probably remain an interesting coincidence forever.
She attended Xiaoshi Middle School for junior high school and the first year of high school, before transferring to Ningbo Middle School in 1948. A tuberculosis infection interrupted her high-school education, but inspired her to go into medical research. From 1951 to 1955, she attended Peking University Medical School / Beijing Medical College.[note 1] In 1955, Youyou Tu graduated from Beijing Medical University School of Pharmacy and continued her research on Chinese herbal medicine in the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences. 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 Traditional Chinese Medicine (now the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medical Sciences[note 2]) in Beijing.
Tu and her husband, Li Tingzhao (李廷钊), a metallurgical engineer, live in Beijing. Li was Tu's classmate at Xiaoshi Middle School. They have two daughters. Tu's maternal grandfather, Yao Yongbai (姚咏白), was the first Director of National Treasury Administration after its reform. Her uncle, Yao Qingsan (姚庆三), was an economist and banker.
Tu carried on her work in the 1960s and 70s during China's Cultural Revolution, when scientists were denigrated as one of the nine black categories in society according to Maoist theory (or possibly that of the Gang of Four).
During her early years in research, Tu studied Lobelia chinensis, a traditional Chinese medicine for curing schistosomiasis, caused by trematodes which infect the urinary tract or the intestines, which was widespread in the first half of the 20th century in South China.
In 1967, during the Vietnam War, Ho Chi Minh, the leader of North Vietnam (which was at war against South Vietnam and the United States), asked Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai for help in developing a malaria treatment for his soldiers trooping down the Ho Chi Minh trail, where a majority came down with a form of malaria which is resistant to chloroquine. Because malaria was also a major cause of death in China's southern provinces, including Hainan, Yunnan, Guangxi, and Guangdong, Zhou Enlai convinced Mao Zedong to set up a secret drug discovery project named Project 523 after its starting date, 23 May 1967.
Scientists worldwide had screened over 240,000 compounds without success. In 1969, Tu, then 39 years old, had an idea of screening Chinese herbs. She first investigated the Chinese medical classics in history, visiting practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine all over the country on her own. She gathered her findings in a notebook called A Collection of Single Practical Prescriptions for Anti-Malaria. Her notebook summarized 640 prescriptions. By 1971, her team had screened over 2,000 traditional Chinese recipes and made 380 herbal extracts, from some 200 herbs, which were tested on mice.
One compound was effective, sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua), which was used for "intermittent fevers," a hallmark of malaria. As Tu also presented at the project seminar, its preparation was described in a 1,600-year-old text, in a recipe titled, "Emergency Prescriptions Kept Up One's Sleeve". At first, it was ineffective because they extracted it with traditional boiling water. Tu Youyou discovered that a low-temperature extraction process could be used to isolate an effective antimalarial substance from the plant; Tu says she was influenced by a traditional Chinese herbal medicine source, The Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergency Treatments, written in 340 by Ge Hong, which states that this herb should be steeped in cold water. This book contained the direction to immerse a handful of qinghao in the equivalent of two litres of water, wring out the juice and drink it all. After rereading the recipe, Tu realised the hot water had already damaged the active ingredient in the plant; therefore she proposed a method using low-temperature ether to extract the effective compound instead. The animal tests showed it was completely effective in mice and monkeys.
In 1972, she and her colleagues obtained the pure substance and named it qinghaosu (青蒿素), or artemisinin as it is commonly called in the West, which has saved millions of lives, especially in the developing world. Tu also studied the chemical structure and pharmacology of artemisinin. Tu's group first determined the chemical structure of artemisinin. In 1973, Tu wanted to confirm the carbonyl group in the artemisinin molecule, therefore she accidentally synthesized dihydroartemisinin.
Furthermore, Tu volunteered to be the first human subject. "As head of this research group, I had the responsibility" she said. It was safe, so she conducted successful clinical trials with human patients. Her work was published anonymously in 1977. In 1981, she presented the findings relating to artemisinin at a meeting with the World Health Organization.
For her work on malaria, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine on 5 October 2015.
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.
Before 2011, Tu Youyou 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. 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.
Equipped with a sound knowledge in both traditional Chinese medicine and modern pharmaceutical sciences, my team inherited and developed the essence of traditional Chinese medicine using modern science and technology and eventually, we successfully accomplished the discovery and development of qinghaosu from qinghao (Artemisia annua L).
Events from the year 1930 in China.1930 in science
The year 1930 in science and technology involved some significant events, listed below.1972 in science
The year 1972 in science and technology involved some significant events, listed below.Artemisia annua
Artemisia annua, also known as sweet wormwood, sweet annie, sweet sagewort, annual mugwort or annual wormwood (Chinese: 黄花蒿; pinyin: huánghuāhāo), is a common type of wormwood native to temperate Asia, but naturalized in many countries including scattered parts of North America.Artemisinin
Artemisinin and its semisynthetic derivatives are a group of drugs used against malaria due to Plasmodium falciparum. It was discovered in 1972 by Tu Youyou, a Chinese scientist, who was awarded half of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine for her discovery. Treatments containing an artemisinin derivative (artemisinin-combination therapies, ACTs) are now standard treatment worldwide for P. falciparum malaria. Artemisinin is isolated from the plant Artemisia annua, sweet wormwood, a herb employed in Chinese traditional medicine. A precursor compound can be produced using a genetically-engineered yeast, which is much more efficient than using the plant.Chemically, artemisinin is a sesquiterpene lactone containing an unusual peroxide bridge. This endoperoxide 1,2,4-trioxane ring is responsible for the drug's mechanism of action. Few other natural compounds with such a peroxide bridge are known.Artemisinin and its derivatives have been used for the treatment of malarial and parastic worm (helminth) infections. They have the advantage over other drugs in having an ability to kill faster and kill all the life cycle stages of the parasites. But low bioavailability, poor pharmacokinetic properties and high cost of the drugs are major drawbacks of their use. Use of the drug by itself as a monotherapy is explicitly discouraged by the World Health Organization, as there have been signs that malarial parasites are developing resistance to the drug. Therapies that combine artemisinin or its derivatives with some other antimalarial drug are the preferred treatment for malaria and are both effective and well tolerated in patients.Asian Scientist
Asian Scientist is an English language science and technology magazine published in Singapore.CD Rev
CD Rev, also known as Chengdu Revolution, is a Chinese government-sponsored gangsta rap group whose nationalist-themed music has been described in the West as propaganda. The group's music videos have been viewed online millions of times (partly due to the support of state-run media in China) and widely discussed in Western media.Feng Jianyu
Feng Jianyu (born August 27, 1992 in Heilongjiang) is a Chinese actor and singer. He portrayed the role of Wu Suowei in the web series Counterattack in May 2015, and entered into the public eye. On 22 September 2015, he collaborated with co-star Wang Qing and released the song This Summer. He portrayed Tu Youyou in the web movie Approaching Journey. In June 2016, he released his first EP Red. In July 2016, he played a lead role in the film Infinite Fight.Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award
Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award is one of four annual awards presented by the Lasker Foundation. The Lasker-DeBakey award is given to honor outstanding work for the understanding, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and cure of disease. This award was renamed in 2008 in honor of Michael E. DeBakey. It was previously known as the Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research.List of Asian Nobel laureates
The Nobel Prize is an annual, international prize first awarded in 1901 for achievements in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace. An associated prize in Economics has been awarded since 1969. Nobel Prizes have been awarded to over 800 individuals.Asians have been the recipients of all six award categories: Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, Peace, and Economics. The first Asian recipient, Rabindranath Tagore, was awarded the Literature Prize in 1913. The most Nobel Prizes awarded to Asians in a single year was in 2014, when five Asians became laureates. The most recent Asian laureates, a Japanese scientist Tasuku Honjo and Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist Nadia Murad were awarded their prizes in 2018.
To date, there have been seventy-four Asian winners of the Nobel Prize, including twenty-seven Japanese, twelve Israeli, and eight Chinese (not including non-Chinese Laureates born in China). The following are not including Russian.List of Chinese Nobel laureates
Since 1957, there have been eight Chinese (including Chinese-born) winners of the Nobel Prize. The Nobel Prize is a Sweden-based international monetary prize. The award was established by the 1895 will and estate of Swedish chemist and inventor Alfred Nobel. It was first awarded in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace in 1901. An associated prize, The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, was instituted by Sweden's central bank in 1968 and first awarded in 1969.
Following is a list of Nobel laureates who have been citizens of the Republic of China or the People's Republic of China and of overseas birth.List of Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (Swedish: Nobelpriset i fysiologi eller medicin) is awarded annually by the Swedish Karolinska Institute to scientists and doctors in the various fields of physiology or medicine. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the 1895 will of Alfred Nobel (who died in 1896), awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature, peace, and physiology or medicine. As dictated by Nobel's will, the award is administered by the Nobel Foundation and awarded by a committee that consists of five members and an executive secretary elected by the Karolinska Institute. While commonly referred to as the Nobel Prize in Medicine, Nobel specifically stated that the prize be awarded for "physiology or medicine" in his will. Because of this, the prize can be awarded in a broader range of fields. The first Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded in 1901 to Emil Adolf von Behring, of Germany. Each recipient receives a medal, a diploma and a monetary award that has varied throughout the years. In 1901, von Behring received 150,782 SEK, which was equal to 7,731,004 SEK in December 2008. The award is presented in Stockholm at an annual ceremony on 10 December, the anniversary of Nobel's death.Laureates have won the Nobel Prize in a wide range of fields that relate to physiology or medicine. As of 2009, 8 Prizes have been awarded for contributions in the field of signal transduction by G proteins and second messengers, 13 have been awarded for contributions in the field of neurobiology and 13 have been awarded for contributions in intermediary metabolism. In 1939 Gerhard Domagk, a German, was not allowed by his government to accept the prize. He later received a medal and diploma, but not the money. As of 2018, the prize has been awarded to 216 individuals, twelve of them were women: Gerty Cori (1947), Rosalyn Yalow (1977), Barbara McClintock (1983), Rita Levi-Montalcini (1986), Gertrude B. Elion (1988), Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (1995), Linda B. Buck (2004), Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (2008), Elizabeth H. Blackburn (2009), Carol W. Greider (2009), May-Britt Moser (2014) and Tu Youyou (2015). There have been nine years in which the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was not awarded (1915–1918, 1921, 1925, 1940–1942).Lou Zhicen
Lou Zhicen (simplified Chinese: 楼之岑; traditional Chinese: 樓之岑; pinyin: Lóu Zhīcén; 28 January 1920 – 23 March 1995) was a Chinese pharmacognosist and educator. Lou comes from a long line doctors and graduated from the University of London. Lou was a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. He was vice-president of the Chinese Pharmaceutical Association (CPA) and a member of the Chinese Pharmacopoeia Commission. He was chief editor of Chinese Pharmaceutical Journal and Bulletin of Chinese Materia Medica, and associate chief editor of Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica. Lou was the graduate tutor of Tu Youyou, who is a renowned pharmaceutical chemist, educator and Nobel laureate.Ningbonese people
The Ningbonese or Ningbo people are the people of Ningbo, China, whether resident or abroad. The Ningbonese are a subgroup of the Wu Han ethnicity. Many famous Chinese people have come from Ningbo and many more have Ningbo as their ancestral home. A large percentage of Shanghainese people have ancestry in Ningbo.
Because Ningbo was formerly the capital of Ming Prefecture, its people are sometimes also known in Chinese as the Mingzhou. People from Zhoushan are also considered to be Ningbonese, since Zhoushan was formerly part of Mingzhou as well.Peking University Health Science Center
Peking University Health Science Center is the medical school of Peking University, which is affiliated with 14 hospitals in Beijing, China. It was formerly the independent Beijing Medical University.Project 523
Project 523 (or task number five hundred and twenty-three; Chinese: 523项目) is a code name for the secret military project of the People's Republic of China during and after the Cultural Revolution, for antimalarial medications, which were urged in the Vietnam War. The name stood for 23 May, the day the project was launched in 1967. It was aimed at finding new drugs for malaria, the disease which claimed more lives than the actual battles. At the behest of Hồ Chí Minh, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (then North Vietnam), Zhou Enlai, the Premier of the People's Republic of China, convinced Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Communist Party of China, to start a mass project for development of new antimalarial drug "to keep [the] allies' troops combat-ready", as they put down in the meeting minute. More than 500 Chinese scientists were recruited. The project was divided into two streams, one for developing synthetic compounds, and the other for investigating traditional Chinese medicine. The latter proved to be the more fruitful, directly resulting in the discovery and development of a class of new antimalarial drugs called artemisinins. It was officially terminated in 1981.
For their high efficacy, safety and stability, artemisinins such as artemether and artesunate became the drugs of choice in falciparum malaria. Their combination drugs are advocated by the World Health Organization, and are included in the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines. Among the scientists of the project, Zhou Yiqing and his team at the Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology of the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences, were awarded the European Inventor Award of 2009 in the category "Non-European countries" for the development of Coartem (artemether-lumefantrine combination drug). Tu Youyou of the Qinghaosu Research Center, Institute of Chinese Materia Medica, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, received both the 2011 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award and 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her role in the discovery of artemisinin.Satoshi Ōmura
Satoshi Ōmura [satoɕi oːmu͍ɽa] (大村 智, Ōmura Satoshi, born 12 July 1935) is a Japanese biochemist. He is known for the discovery and development of various pharmaceuticals originally occurring in microorganisms. In 2015, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with William C. Campbell and Tu Youyou.Tu (surname)
Tu (Chinese: 屠; pinyin: Tú) is a Chinese family name, and the 279th family name in Hundred Family Surnames (百家姓). Tu (涂) is another Chinese surname.William C. Campbell (scientist)
William Cecil Campbell (born 28 June 1930) is an Irish and American biologist and parasitologist known for his work in discovering a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworms, for which he was jointly awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He helped to discover a class of drugs called avermectins, whose derivatives have been shown to have "extraordinary efficacy" in treating River blindness and Lymphatic filariasis, among other parasitic diseases affecting animals and humans. Campbell worked at the Merck Institute for Therapeutic Research 1957–1990, and is currently a research fellow emeritus at Drew University.
|Hanyu Pinyin||Tú Yōuyōu|
|Romanization||Du1 Ieu1 Ieu1|
2015 Nobel Prize laureates
|Physiology or Medicine|
|Physiology or Medicine|
|Physiology or Medicine|
Highest Science and Technology Award laureates