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Tu Youyou
Stories of inspiration from Smart Girl Stories across the globe. Tu Youyou: The Nobel Prize Winner Who Changed the Course of Medicine

Tu Youyou: The Nobel Prize Winner Who Changed the Course of Medicine

Have you heard of Tu Youyou? If not, you should have. This Chinese chemist and researcher is a pivotal figure in the fight against malaria and other infectious diseases. She’s saved countless lives and is a shining example of what’s possible when brilliant minds are given the resources they need to do their work. Let’s explore Tu Youyou’s life and accomplishments, and learn why she was awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize.

Tu Youyou – Early Years

Tu Youyou was born in Ningbo, China in 1930. Her father was a traditional Chinese doctor, and Tu followed in his footsteps by studying medicine at Peking University. After graduation, she began working at the Academy of Chinese Traditional Medicine, where she developed an interest in herbal medicine. This interest would prove crucial to her later work on malaria.

Breakthrough discovery

In the 1960s, China was facing a crisis: they were experiencing a massive outbreak of malaria and had no cure. Tu was tasked with finding a solution. She turned to ancient Chinese texts on herbal medicine and began screening hundreds of plants for their potential to treat malaria. After years of work, she discovered that the sweet wormwood plant contained a compound that could kill the malaria parasite. This discovery ultimately led to the development of artemisinin, the most effective anti-malarial drug we have today.

Tu’s work on artemisinin has saved millions of lives. Malaria disproportionately affects people in low-income countries, and artemisinin has provided a much-needed lifeline in the fight against the disease. Her discovery has been called one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century.

Nobel Prize

In 2015, Tu Youyou was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her work on artemisinin. She was the first Chinese woman to receive the prize, and only the 12th woman overall. Tu remains an advocate for the use of traditional medicine in the treatment of diseases and is an inspiration to women and scientists around the world.

Tu’s work on malaria is just one example of the incredible impact that scientific research can have on the world. Without her tireless efforts, millions of people would still be suffering from this deadly disease. We need more people like Tu who are willing to take risks and push the boundaries of what’s possible in the fight against disease.

Tu’s Legacy

Tu Youyou is a true hero of our time. Her work on artemisinin has saved millions of lives, and her perseverance in the face of a daunting challenge should serve as an inspiration to us all. It’s important that we continue to support scientific research and those who work tirelessly to find cures and treatments for the diseases that afflict us. Tu’s legacy will live on for generations, and we should all strive to follow in her footsteps and make a difference in the world.

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