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The war hero in the fight against cancer

By Wen Chihua | China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-01 09:15
Qiao Youlin is a renowned epidemiologist dedicated to cancer prevention research based in Beijing. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Chinese epidemiologist Qiao Youlin talks about how he went from being an aspiring cavalry soldier to becoming a medical professional lauded for his contributions to society, Wen Chihua from China Features reports.

Inspired by the tales of the Russian Cossack cavalry depicted in Mikhail Sholokhov's epic novel And Quiet Flows the Don, Qiao Youlin grew up wanting to be soldier fighting for a noble cause.

Today, Qiao is widely considered a hero in his field, though he wields not rifles or pistols, but test tubes and petri dishes.

A renowned epidemiologist who holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins University in the United States, Qiao and his team have spent 15 years developing careHPV, a fast, inexpensive and more easily accessible test to detect human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus directly related to cervical cancer, the second most common type of cancer for women globally.

Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Qiao's team published their findings in the London-based medical journal The Lancet Oncology on Sept 22, 2008. According to the journal entry, the test "can identify 14 strains of HPV including HPV 16 and 18 in about 2.5 hours, with the result as accurate as Hybrid Capture 2 (hc2), another advanced testing technology for cervical cancer generally applied in developed countries."

In July 2018, careHPV was approved by the World Health Organization for use in cervical cancer screening.

"His research has led to the creation of careHPV, which will benefit numerous women in China as well as other developing countries," says Li Yinuo, the director of the China Office of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Presently, 85 percent of all cervical cancer patients come from developing countries.

The son of a war veteran who fought for the liberation of Sichuan's capital city Chengdu during the civil war in 1949, Qiao still recalls how his father would encourage him and his five siblings to help others.

While Qiao did attempt to pursue his childhood ambition - he applied to join the cavalry based in the Inner Mongolian autonomous region - he was rejected because of his myopia.

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