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Urban Lendahl unveils why Nobel Prize goes to Tu Youyou

By Gao Yinan (People's Daily Online)    13:39, December 10, 2015
Urban Lendahl unveils why Nobel Prize goes to Tu Youyou
Urban Lendahl in an interview with People's Daily Online. (photo/Gao Yinan)

"Tu Youyou’s winning clearly proved that what she did is really a remarkable achievement for the world. We see this award is given to her, we think she is the best," Urban Lendahl, Secretary General for the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute, told People’s Daily Online in an exclusive video interview at the Nordic studio of the website.

Why is Tu Youyou

During the Nobel Week, Lendahl met with Tu Youyou every day. Despite the language barrier, with the help of Tu’s daughter and son-in-law, they had good interaction with each other. “Due to health reasons, Tu cannot participate in some activities. But as long as she shows up, she looks comfortable.”

“For her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria,” Lendahl gave the reason for Tu’s winning on Dec. 5. However, according to Lendahl, the screening process of the Nobel Prize was never easy.

It is the first year for Urban Lendahl serving as Secretary General for the Nobel Assembly. “What the Secretary General does is to keep the machinery working. We got report that we commissioned and we combined everything so that all members could read the materials and items, and announced the prize this early October.”

In terms of the standard of the Nobel Prize, Lendahl said, “The prize awarded scientists whose discoveries represent a paradigm shift in medicine, which has not only provided revolutionary therapies for patients suffering from devastating parasitic diseases, but also promoted well-being and prosperity for individuals and society.”

According to statistics, 3.3 billion people in 97 countries and regions all over the world still face the threat of malaria, of which 1.2 billion live in high-risk regions, and the prevalence of these regions may be higher than 1/1000. And 90 percent of malaria deaths occur in Africa. 70 percent of patients use artemisinin-based combination therapy for malaria.

Urban Lendahl announces Tu’s winning of the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.(photo/People's Daily Online)

When these data were presented in front of the members of the Nobel Prize, Tu Youyou has no doubt come to the fore in a number of candidates. “We’ve carefully studied the research work of every Nobel laureate for a long time. Therefore, we’ve ‘known’ Tu Youyou for a long time on academy. Tu is a very great woman no matter of her academic achievement or of her rich and unique life experiences,” Lendahl said.

Lendalh also shared Tu’s story of testing the medicine on herself, saying the members of the committee were deeply moved when they knew that Tu Youyou used to test medicine so frequently that she lost all of her teeth.

Each year the prize awards just a maximum of three laureates, therefore the Nobel Committee has to find the best research and scientific discovery.

Who is Urban Lendahl

Born in Stockholm in 1957, Urban Lendahl is a famous Swedish scientist in molecular biology. After he earned his PhD at the Karolinska Institute in 1987, Lendahl became a postdoctoral fellow at MIT. After returning to the Karolinska Institute three years later, Lendahl became Professor of Genetics in 1997.

Lendahl has been a member of the Nobel Assembly for Physiology or Medicine since 2001. Since January 1, 2015, Lendahl has been Secretary General for the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute. He is also Editor-in-Chief for the journal Experimental Cell Research.

Lendahl showed up at the airport on Dec. 4 when Tu youyou arrived in Stockholm and started her Nobel Prize journey. He greeted Tu with Chinese “Ni hao” (hello) and Tu said Thank you in English in reply. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Hongyu,Bianji)

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