Tu Youyou: Nobel Prize Winner

Tu Youyou (born 30 December 1930) is a Chinese pharmaceutical chemist and educator. She discovered artemisinin (also known as qinghaosu) and dihydroartemisinin, used to treat malaria, a significant breakthrough in 20th century tropical medicine, saving millions of lives in developing countries in South Asia, Africa, and South America.

For her work, Tu received the 2011 Lasker Award in clinical medicine and the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura. Tu is the first Chinese Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine and the first female citizen of the People’s Republic of China to receive a Nobel Prize in any category, as well as the first Chinese person to receive the Lasker Award. Tu Youyou was born and educated and carried out research exclusively in China.

Tu carried on her work in the 1960s and 70s during China’s Cultural Revolution, when scientists were denigrated as one of the nine black categories in society according to Maoist theory (or possibly that of the Gang of Four)


  • 1978, National Science Congress Prize, P.R. China
  • 1979, National Inventor’s Prize, P.R. China
  • 1992, (One of the) Ten Science and Technology Achievements in China, State Science Commission, P.R. China
  • 1997, (One of the) Ten Great Public Health Achievements in New China, P.R. China
  • September 2011, GlaxoSmithKline Outstanding Achievement Award in Life Science
  • September 2011, Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award
  • November 2011, Outstanding Contribution Award, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences
  • February 2012, (One of the Ten) National Outstanding Females, P.R. China
  • June 2015, Warren Alpert Foundation Prize (co-recipient)
  • October 2015, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2015 (co-recipient) for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria, awarded one half of this prize; and William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura jointly awarded another half for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infection with roundworm parasites.
  • 2016, Highest Science and Technology Award, China

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