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Six Nobel winners named top science gurus
By Cui Ning & Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-17 01:03

Six Nobel Prize laureates on Friday started working as academic advisers for China to help sharpen the country's research edge in life science and biological technologies.

The life science gurus are employed as advisers for the National Institute of Biological Science (NIBS).

With overseas talent forming its research backbone, the NIBS's establishment last year was regarded as a major government strategy to catch up in the life science field.

Together with six Nobel winners, including Norman Borlaug and Robert Huber, 12 leading overseas Chinese researchers and domestic experts have also joined the academic adviser team at NIBS, which is sponsored by the Beijing municipal government.

An academician at the US Academy of Sciences, Wang Xiaodong, said the consultants will play a dynamic role in advancing research for China in the basic sciences.

"They can offering constructive suggestions for our research objectives and assess our performance," said Wang, who is Chinese and among the youngest US academicians.

The advisers are urging more basic research investment, since the Chinese Government spends much less than some other countries.

"With ample investment, well-educated research teams and improved infrastructure, China can make rapid progress very soon," said Ferid Murad, the US Nobel prize winner.

He said China has already made significant achievements in life science, citing the Human Genome Project. "Only with thriving basic research can one generate technologies in biological industry."

Hartmut Michel, a German scientist and the Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, said biological technology will bring influences to medicine, agriculture and other areas.

He said many Chinese companies are moving forward in the field, with China representing a big market in the world.

Wang Hongguang, director of the Biological Technology Development Centre of the Ministry of Science and Technology, said China has already outlined its blueprint for the biological industry's development in the next five to 10 years.

He said biological technology may greatly propel the development of agriculture, medical science, manufacturing and other industries.

China is taking measures to develop such technology, with 1.3 billion yuan (US$156 million) of government funds going to the sector this year.

But compared to Japan, the United States and some other developed countries, China's biological technology is still in the fledging stage, Wang said.

Yesterday's meeting of NIBS's academic adviser team kicked off a series of events for this month and August to promote life science and the biological industry.

Saturday is the Nobel Day, which features four Nobel prize winners delivering keynote speeches at the Great Hall of the People and four universities in Beijing. A forum on grain and food safety will be organized on Saturday.

Following the forum, the China Research Centre for Grain and Food Safety will be launched in Beijing on Sunday.

The organizing committee of the events also said a conference in which overseas Chinese scientists will be key speakers will be organized on Monday.

To promote development of biological technologies, the organizing committee is inviting biological companies and research institutes to attend a conference August 2.

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