Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award

Acceptance remarks by Tu Youyou

Tu Youyou Dear respected Chairman, President and Jury Members of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, Dear respected Nobel Laureates and my fellow Lasker Laureates, Dear respected President of the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am extremely honored to be selected as a winner of this year's Lasker~DeBakery Clinical Medical Research Award — one of the most esteemed awards in the biomedical sciences. I express my wholehearted thanks to the jury members for the recognition of my contributions to the discovery of Qinghaosu (artemisinin) for malaria treatment.

In my childhood, I witnessed occasions when patients were rescued by folk Chinese medicine recipes. However, neither did I dream then of such a close linkage of my whole life to researching those miraculous herbs nor could I imagine then that today I would experience such an overwhelming moment when my research has been highly praised by the international scientific community. I started research on herbal medicines in 1955. My curiosity about herbs turned into a strong motivation after college training, and more importantly through years of invaluable experience in the Institute of Materia Medica, in particular during two and half years full time training on traditional Chinese medicine arranged by the institute. 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).

Whereas the finding of quinine was largely attributed to the historical use of Cinchona Ledgeriana in Peru, the discovery of Qinghaosu is a gift to mankind from traditional Chinese medicine. From the traditional Chinese medicinal literature I was inspired with new ideas at the most challenging moment during the research process. Traditional Chinese medicine has served people in China and other Asian countries for many centuries. Continuous exploration and development of traditional medicine will, without doubt, bring more medicines to the world. I advocate a global collaboration in the research of Chinese and other traditional medicines in order to maximize their benefits to the healthcare of the human beings.

The discovery of Qinghaosu is a small step in the human endeavor towards conquering diseases. I feel greatly encouraged and rewarded by WHO's recommendation on the use of Qinghaosu based Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT) as the frontline remedy against malaria. For this, I would also like to express my great appreciation and thanks to my Chinese colleagues who made significant contributions to the discovery and clinical application of Qinghaosu.