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China recognizes foreign experts

China Daily | Updated: 2016-01-09 08:05

Editor's note: The International Science and Technology Cooperation Award, the highest award of the Chinese government given to foreign scientists who have made significant contributions to the development of science and technology in China, honored seven foreign experts this year. China Daily received responses from six of the winners on their feelings about the award, the recent sci-tech boom in China and their careers here.

Evgeny Velikhov, 81, from Russia, is a world-leading expert in nuclear fusion, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, member of European Academy of Sciences and foreign member of the US National Academy of Engineering. Velikhov is an initiator and key player of the ITER Project - an International nuclear fusion research and engineering project. Under the help of Velikhov, Russia donated a T-7 superconducting tokamak (a device that uses a magnetic field to shape plasma) to the Institute of Plasma Physics affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. China became a partner of the ITER Project in 2003 and is playing an increasingly important role.

My own country has already delivered me the highest state glories - I became a full Knight Order of Merit. Additional recognition that I am receiving from my good Chinese friends and comrades is of course a vast privilege to me.

Many years ago I remember Hefei was a small town, but nowadays it has become a city of 5 million people with some 200 educational, research and industrial centers including our common pride, the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST). Hefei Institute is one of the major research centers studying the reaction of thermonuclear fusion. We use the premier experimental device in China - a superconducting tokamak NT-7 - the world's first superconducting non-circular section tokamak.

Jan-Christer Janson, 77, from Sweden, distinguished bio-separation scientist. He is a professor emeritus at the department of chemistry of Uppsala University, Sweden, and a member of the Swedish Royal Society of Science in Uppsala. Janson is known around the world for his great contributions to modern protein chromatography on an industrial scale. The products his group developed are widely used in the biopharmaceutical industry. Since 1980, Janson has been actively engaged in collaboration with Chinese biotechnologists. He has helped China to design and develop industrial separation and purification processes for several recombinant pharmaceuticals, which have been manufactured by the Chinese biopharmaceutical industry in large quantities.

As a retired professor of Uppsala University, Sweden, winning this fine award to me first of all means a recognition of my 35 years of successful cooperation with Chinese scientists and biopharmaceutical companies that has led to the production of vaccines, cancer drugs, human plasma proteins and biomedical devices.

I expect winning this fine award will strengthen the applications for research grants submitted to various levels of Chinese society (national, provincial, prefectural and municipal) by my Chinese collaborators in which I am participating as a co-investigator.

Joannes Frencken, 66, from the Netherlands, expert in dental health. He serves as professor of the Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and guest professor of Wuhan University in Hubei province. He piloted a dental approach named ART (Atraumatic Restorative Treatment), a minimal intervention approach to manage dental cavities, and was awarded the title of International Dentist of the Year (1998-99) by the Academy of Dentistry International for his international leadership in the dental profession. He cooperated with Chinese dental medical experts to promote China's exchange and cooperation with the WHO, and helped Chinese dentists to make achievements in the application of the ART approach.

The science and technology prize carries more weight, and touches me more and deeper. The award contains the appreciation felt by my colleagues from the Wuhan School and Hospital of Stomatology for the research that we have performed together in the last decade. That feeling is very dear to me.

I am happy to say that the cooperation in performing the clinical research went without major difficulties. The single problem is my inability to speak Chinese. I had to communicate to children, school staff and supporting staff through my former PhD students.

Because of the great advances in knowledge on ART, time has come to concentrate more and more on disseminating ART to undergraduate students, through inclusion of ART in the curriculum of dental schools, providing post-graduation courses and developing an e-learning course.

Okimura Kazuki, 75, president of the Japan Science and Technology Agency.

He has been promoting China-Japan science and technology cooperation, such as establishing the China Research and Communication Center and organizing student exchange programs.

The prize is recognition of my decades-long commitment in promoting sci-tech exchanges between China and Japan under the support of the ministries of education, culture, sports, science and technology and the Japan Science and Technology Agency. I take it as a big honor in my life.

I have received extensive support from Chinese ministries, local governments, colleges and institutes in promoting sci-tech exchanges between the two countries. I believe this award will be a significant help for me to gain more support in all aspects in the future.

The Japan-Asia Youth Exchange Program in Science, which was initiated by myself, has organized around 3,000 Chinese adolescents to visit Japan. I hope to recruit more young talents to this program in the coming five years, to let them know more about Japanese technology, thus to contribute to the development of China's science and technology, innovation and environmental protection.

Peter J. Stang, 74, from the US, distinguished professor of chemistry at the University of Utah.

He pioneered and developed a new method for the formation of large scale, high definition nanoscale complexes with two- and three-dimensional assemblies, which has been recognized by numerous prizes and honors. Over the last 30 years, Stang has committed efforts to promote scientific cooperation with Chinese scientists, which produced fruitful results.

Winning this major prestigious award is a great honor. Peer recognition is very important in one's career. International recognition demonstrates the impact and significance of one's scientific contribution worldwide.

The fact that this award is given by the government in my opinion enhances its significance and importance. I am confident that it will facilitate my future collaborations.

My research area is non-biological self-assembly using coordination to generate novel three-dimensional metalla-cages and two-dimensional metallacycles as well as metalla-polymers.

This is an active area of research in China as well as with many research groups working in this field and making very significant and interesting contributions.

Walter Ian Lipkin, 63, professor of epidemiology, neurology and pathology at Columbia University.

Lipkin is internationally recognized for his work with the West Nile virus and SARS as well as advancing pathogen discovery techniques by developing a staged strategy using techniques pioneered in his lab. An expert in his field, Lipkin was invited by Chinese officials to help curb the spread of SARS during the 2003 outbreak in China in which 8,000 people were infected and 750 people died.

I remember back in 2003 when I was invited by then vice-president of the Chinese Academy Sciences Chen Zhu to try to design a strategy for addressing the challenge of SARS. It was enormous progress not only to the health of people in China but also to economic development. For me personally, I feel like I was present at the birth of this whole field of infectious disease research in China. I feel like I was involved and helping to develop this new era of microbiological science in China and I almost felt like a midwife in bringing it to reality. So I am very proud of it, I'm very pleased and I'm very understanding of what the future holds.

The prize is an appreciation of our relationship that began over 10 years ago, and will also continue to be present in the future.

There are two challenges I met in China. Firstly, we do not have enough resources and people to run these laboratories. The second one is there should be more freedom in terms of the exchange of information, data and people.

Carlo Rubbia, 81, from Italy, a prestigious physicist, Nobel Laureate in 1984. Since 1961 he has been working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN, in Geneva, Switzerland, and was its director general from 1989 to 1994. From 1972 to 1989, Rubbia has held the Higgins Professorship of Physics at Harvard University. Rubbia has been promoting cooperation between CERN and the Institute of High Energy Physics affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In 1993, under his leadership, CERN published a statement that made World Wide Web technology available on a royalty free basis, allowing the web to flourish worldwide.

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