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Minister of health in China Chen Zhu

The Public Orator, Dr Elaine Yee-lin Ho, wrote and delivered the following citation:

Chen Zhu was born into a medical family in 1953: both his parents are doctors. From early years, family culture inculcated in Chen Zhu a desire to practice medicine and to pursue medical research that could have a transformative effect on human lives. Chen Zhu was sent to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution and never completed his formal secondary and university education. But his parents encouraged him in self-accessed study and to use what knowledge he gained to help the farmers and local people.

In 1975, he was admitted to Shangrao Medical School in Jiangxi where he completed a two-year course before beginning his graduate studies at Shanghai Second Medical University. Between 1981 and 1984, he was an intern in the Department of Medicine at the Shanghai Rui-Jin Hospital. Guided by his teachers, Chen Zhu embarked on pioneering research in his specialism, Hematology. He conducted the first studies in China to classify hemophilia A, perform carrier detection and genetic counselling of the disease.

His intelligence and dedication to his work won further recognition and support from the Chinese government who sent him to France to complete his internship at the Laboratoire Central d'Hematologie in Paris. Between 1985-1989, he pursued his Ph.D studies at the Hopital Saint-Louis, Universite Paris VII, and after the award of his degree, conducted postdoctoral research at the hospital. It was in France that he realized the transition from hematologist to molecular biologist. Returning to the Shanghai Rui-Jin Hospital in 1990, Chen Zhu was appointed Professor that same year, and in 1995, became the Director of the Shanghai Institute of Hematology. He was further honoured by his election as a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


Chen Zhu minister of health in China

Professor Chen enjoys national and world renown for his pathbreaking work on the treatment of leukaemia. In the field of molecular immunology, he has conducted creative research on leukaemia related genes. His major contribution to medical knowledge and human good so far has been his work on leukemia therapy. Professor Chen has elucidated the molecular mechanism of a traditional Chinese medicine, pi xiang, a medicine which is essentially a poison, arsenic trioxide, on a virulent form of leukaemia. When combined with another drug, the treatment achieved a very strong therapeutic effect with high complete remission and disease-free survival rates. This new finding means that this virulent form of leukaemia has become the first hematological malignancy that could be possibly cured.

Chen Zhu's work has been described as 'beautiful' by one of his admiring colleagues in the international arena. Even to the lay person, there is something particularly moving in the harnessing of a poison as a possible cure. In William Shakespeare's memorable line, 'Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.' (Henry IV, Part I, II.iii, line 11). Professor Chen has emphasized that his achievements would not have been possible without the contribution of the staff of the Shanghai Institute of Hematology. His mission, as a team-leader on the cutting edge of contemporary medical research, is to show how a combination of Western biomedical sciences and oriental philosophy as well as medical practice could bring new benefit to cancer therapy.

Since 1998, Professor Chen has been the Director of the Chinese National Genome Centre in Shanghai. Among its work, the Centre is in partnership with scientists from five other countries in the International HapMap Project which is developing a public resource that will help researchers find genes associated with human disease and response to pharmaceuticals. The Shanghai Genome Centre and the Hong Kong University Genome Research Centre are both members of the Chinese team that has contributed to the work of the international consortium.

In 2000, Professor Chen was elected Vice-President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and he currently directs national policy on the development of biomedical sciences. Internationally, he has been honoured by many awards, including an honorary degree from the University of Genoa, Italy, the first Prix de l'Oise awarded to a foreign scientist by La Legue Nationale contre le Cancer, and Chevalier dans l'Ordre National de La Legion d'Honneur, France. His international distinction is further evidenced in his election as Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. Mr Pro-Chancellor, it is my honour and privilege to present Chen Zhu for the award of the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa .

Chen was elected an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in 1995, and in 2000, his political career became apparent after his promotion to vice president of CAS.

Chen Zhu added a new string to his bow when he entered the world of politics as China's newly appointed health minister. The appointment was approved by the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress on June 29. Chen, without a party affiliation, is only the second person in 35 years to hold a ministerial position who is not a member of the ruling Communist Party of China. The first, Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang, took post in April.

Chen, 54, a molecular biologist, was born into a well-known doctors' family in south China's Jiangsu Province. He obtained his Master's degree in hematology in Shanghai, and a Doctorate in medical sciences at Saint-Louis Hospital University, France. During his tenure at the Shanghai Institute of Hematology since 1989, Chen led his team in the study of the pathogenesis of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), and proposed arsenic trioxide in the treatment of APL, which has been recognized as an effective therapy for leukemia worldwide. In an ambitious move related to the study of human genes, in 1998 Chen constructed China's first human genome research center of state level in Shanghai. With the completion of genomic DNA and cDNA identification, mapping, cloning, sequencing and bioinformatics analysis, China's study of the human genome and life science has been greatly improved. Chen was elected an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in 1995, and in 2000, his political career became apparent after his promotion to vice president of CAS, taking major charge of international cooperation and biotech research work. Chen's competence in management and coordination has been recognized since then, with the establishment of a biomedicine research institute in Guangzhou, a biomass energy base in Tianjin, and the Shanghai National Life Science Institute under his leadership.

Chen's growing concern of public health and medical care problems of public interests has helped him to voice his opinion on many occasions. Chen, along with other renowned medical experts, has called for the establishment of a new public healthcare system, under which the government, individuals and medical institutions are included, after the scare of the SARS epidemic. His openness and novel multi-dimensional proposals have won him many admirers.

Chen is the first non-French winner of Prix de l'Qise by La Legue Nationale contre le Cancer of France. He is also an academician of the French Academy of Sciences and the United States National Academy of Sciences.

Chen Zhu (Pinyin: Chen Zhu; August 17, 1953-), is a Chinese hematologist, molecular biologist, and current Minister of Health of P.R.China. Chen also holds professorship at the School of Medicine of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai.

Chen was born in Shanghai in Auguest 1953, and his ancestral hometown is Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province.

Chen obtained his master's degree from the Shanghai Second Medical Sciences University (the medical university later would be merged into Shanghai Jiao Tong University and now is SJTU's medical school) in September, 1981.

Chen obtained his PhD from the Universite Paris 7 - Denis Diderot in Paris, France. Chen also completed his medical residency and post-doctoral research at the same university and its teaching hospital.

Chen was the former President of the Shanghai Institute of Hematology. He was also the former Director-general of the the China Human Genome Center (South) in Shanghai. Currently, Chen is a Vice-President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

Chen currently is the only Minister of P.R.China without any political membership or party-ship.

Chen married his classmate Chen Saijuan, and has one son. Both Chens are hematologists and former students of Zhen-yi Wang.

The MOH reports directly to the State Council. Its functions include:

* Drafting laws, regulations, plans and policies related to public health
* Formulating policies for maternity and child-care programs
* Overseeing disease prevention and treatment
* Controlling the spread of epidemics
* Supervising blood collection
* Reforming medical institutions
* Overseeing state hospitals
* Drawing up medical science and technology development projects
* Setting quality standards for foods and cosmetics
* Overseeing medical education and setting related standards
* Controlling the Beijing Medical College and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences; and
* Overseeing the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine

List of China ministers of health

  • Li Dequan November 1949-January 1965
  • Qian Xinzhong January 1965-June 1968
  • Qiu Guoguang June 1968-June 1970
  • Chen Renhong June 1970-July 1973
  • Liu Xiangping July 1973-October 1976
  • Jiang Yizhen 1977 -1979
  • Qian Xinzhong 1979 -1982
  • Cui Yueli 1982 -1987
  • Chen Minzhang 1987 -1998
  • Zhang Wenkang 1998-2003
  • Wu Yi 2003-2005
  • Gao Qiang 2005-2007
  • Chen Zhu 2007- (incumbent)

map of China regions

ISO Division name Pinyin Postal Capital Population Density per Area
CN-11 Beijing Beijing Peking Dongcheng 15,810,000 941 16,800
CN-12 Tianjin Tianjin Tientsin Heping 11,519,000 980 11,305
CN-13 Hebei Hebei Hopeh Shijiazhuang 68,090,000 363 187,700
CN-14 Shanxi Shanxi Shansi Taiyuan 33,350,000 213 156,300
CN-15 Inner Mongolia Neimenggu Mongolia Hohhot 23,840,000 20 1,183,000
CN-21 Liaoning Liaoning Fengtien Shenyang 42,170,000 289 145,900
CN-22 Jilin Jilin Kirin Changchun 27,090,000 145 187,400
CN-23 Heilongjiang Heilongjiang Heilungkiang Harbin 38,170,000 83 454,000
CN-31 Shanghai Shanghai Shanghai Huangpu 18,450,000 2,622 6,341
CN-32 Jiangsu Jiangsu Kiangsu Nanjing 75,495,000 736 102,600
CN-33 Zhejiang Zhejiang Chekiang Hangzhou 47,200,000 464 102,000
CN-34 Anhui Anhui Anhwei Hefei 64,610,000 463 139,700
CN-35 Fujian Fujian Fukien Fuzhou 35,110,000 289 121,300
CN-36 Jiangxi Jiangxi Kiangsi Nanchang 42,840,000 257 167,000
CN-37 Shandong Shandong Shantung Jinan 91,800,000 586 153,800
CN-41 Henan Henan Honan Zhengzhou 98,690,000 591 167,000
CN-42 Hubei Hubei Hupeh Wuhan 60,160,000 324 185,900
CN-43 Hunan Hunan Hunan Changsha 66,980,000 316 210,000
CN-44 Guangdong Guangdong Kwangtung Guangzhou 113,040,000 467 180,000
CN-45 Guangxi Guangxi Kwangsi Nanning 48,890,000 207 236,000
CN-46 Hainan Hainan Hainan Haikou 8,180,000 241 34,000
CN-50 Chongqing Chongqing Chungking Yuzhong 31,442,300 382 82,300
CN-51 Sichuan Sichuan Szechuan Chengdu 87,250,000 180 485,000
CN-52 Guizhou Guizhou Kweichow Guiyang 39,040,000 222 176,000
CN-53 Yunnan Yunnan Yunnan Kunming 44,150,000 112 394,000
CN-54 Tibet Xizang Tibet Lhasa 2,740,000 2 1,228,400
CN-61 Shaanxi Shanxi Shensi Xi'an 37,050,000 180 205,600
CN-62 Gansu Gansu Kansu Lanzhou 26,190,000 58 454,300
CN-63 Qinghai Qinghai Tsinghai Xining 5,390,000 7 721,200
CN-64 Ningxia Ningxia Ningsia Yinchuan 5,880,000 89 66,400
CN-65 Xinjiang Xinjiang Sinkiang Urumqi 19,630,000 12 1,660,400
CN-91 Hong Kong Xianggang Hongkong Central 6,985,200 6,352 1,104
CN-92 Macau Aomen Macau Our Lady of Fatima 520,400 17,310 29


Last update: 04 July 2010
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