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Dr Rosen, a friend of China's passes on

By Cai Wenjun   (Shanghai Daily)

11:17, January 14, 2013

Dr John F. Rosen, a leader in the battle against childhood lead poisoning, was an old friend of China who helped establish children's environmental health treatment centers and helped many young Chinese doctors for more than two decades.

, died of colon cancer in Connecticut, on December 7 at the age of 77. A memorial service will be held on January 30 at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York.

A group of Chinese doctors who were close to Rosen and China's Consul General in New York Sun Guoxiang will attend. Shanghai Vice Mayor Shen Xiaoming, a former medical researcher who worked with Rosen in New York, compiled a book as a tribute to Dr Rosen.

A pioneer on childhood lead and environmental poisoning, Rosen conducted extensive research and pushed for stricter US measures of lead poisoning. He helped many children suffering from lead poisoning from the paint in substandard housing in New York. He was one of the first to describe the long-term devastating neurological effects of early poisoning that went undetected for many years.

China is tackling a massive problem of heavy metal pollution, including lead pollution from many factories.

Though Rosen's name is not familiar to people in Shanghai, he was a friend and mentor to many young Chinese pediatricians who studied in the United States. They focused on lead and environmental poisoning of children, early detection and treatment. Chinese doctors recalled Rosen with great affection.

òI have never met a person so kind to young Chinese doctors,ó said Dr Ji Qingying, vice president of the Shanghai Children's Medical Center. òHe gave us great help during our study in the US and all of us visited his home. He was just like an old friend, and even a father.ó She remembered that Rosen met her at Grand Central Station in New York and found her when she got lost in the sprawling structure.

Rosen promoted medical exchanges and cooperation between China and the US and worked for more than 20 years to improve the health of children in Shanghai and throughout China.

With Rosen's help, Shanghai's Xinhua Hospital established China's first research center in 1996 for childhood lead poisoning prevention and China's first research center for children's environmental health.

Using Rosen's suggestions, China's Ministry of Health issued national guidelines in 2006 for childhood lead poisoning and treatment.

In 2009, Rosen received the Magnolia Memorial Award from the Shanghai government and in 2011 the Friendship Award from the central government. These are the highest municipal and national honors conferred on foreign nationals who have contributed to China's economic and social development.

Dr John Rosen came from a family with close ties to China. And so did his wife Margaret Hiatt.

Rosen's parents, Samuel and Helen, volunteered for civil rights and leftist causes and traveled to China to meet with then Premier Zhou Enlai before US President Richard M. Nixon's historic trip in 1972. They were among the first Americans invited to China.

Dr Samuel Rosen, also a physician and expert on deafness, died in 1981 on his ninth visit to China. Samuel Rosen helped Canadian Dr Norman Bethune raise money for medical supplies for China's liberated areas during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45). At that time, Samuel Rosen began his long friendship with Soong Ching Ling, the honorary chairman of the People's Republic of China.

òMy mother's and father's love of the Chinese people was handed down to my wife Margaret and me,ó John Rosen said during his mother's funeral in 1998.

Dr Ji Qingying said John Rosen prepared everything that a young Chinese doctor would need while studying in New York.

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