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This mother was not even recognized by her daughter


Going through the biography of this Nobel laureate has once again reminded me of a famous quote by someone-

Nothing great was ever accomplished without making sacrifices”.

Indeed, it is true not only for this great scientist, but for all who could achieve something extraordinary in life. Sacrifice and success have always been two sides of the same coin and there are numerous examples for the same.

Friends, today I am going to throw some light on the inspirational life story of another Asian researcher, Youyou Tu, who was conferred with the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in the year 2015 for her extraordinary contribution in the research of antimalarial drugs. She discovered artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin, used to treat malaria, a significant breakthrough in tropical medicine in the 20th century , saving millions of lives in developing countries in South Asia, Africa, and South America. Tu was 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 (Wikipedia).

Youyou Tu is a Chinese pharmaco-chemist born in the year 1930 in Ningbo, a small city in China. Her father was a banker and mother was a home maker. Youyou’s parents were very serious about the education of their children; this is how she had the opportunity to have good education as a child. Everything was going fine but in the eighth standard, Youyou had to take a break from studies as she had suffered from tuberculosis. This took her two years to recover and resume her studies. This made young Youyou to make up her mind to study medicine in future. After graduating from high-school, she was selected to study pharmacy in the Department of Pharmacy at the Medical School of Peking University.

After completion of her education in Pharmacy from that university in the year 1955, Youyou Tu was posted in the Institute of Chinese Materia Medica of the newly established Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine under the China Ministry of Health, which later became China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences. Her work was basically to identify and isolate, and characterize the active drug molecules present in traditional Chinese medicines. During the long 60 years of service at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Tu took various responsibilities and finally took over as the Chief Professor and is still continuing in the same position. This living legend had started her research career in Schistomiasis, later to be shifted to antimalarial research. Mrs. Tu was such a dedicated worker that in order to make it possible to devote more time in research, she sent one of her two daughters to her parental home and another to the full-time boarding school. An workaholic, Tu was so busy in her work that when once she visited her daughters after several months, none of them could recognize her. Her dedication and sacrifice paid-back and she was selected for the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 2015 for her life-long contribution towards research in antimalarial drugs.

Dr. Luit Moni Barkalita

Ph.D. Scholar

University of Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium

& Assistant Professor (On study leave)

Dept. of Animal Biotechnology

C.V.Sc., A.A.U., Khanapara

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