Tu won half of the award for her work on artemisinin, an anti-malarial drug based on ancient Chinese herbal medicine
BEIJING: One of this year’s Nobel medicine laureates, Chinese Tu Youyou, said Tuesday she was “not really surprised” to win, telling local press the award was an honour for all the country’s scientists.
“We carried out this research over a number of decades, so to win this award was not a surprise,” the 84-year-old told the Qianjiang Evening News from her home in Zhejiang.
Tu won half of the award for her work on artemisinin, an anti-malarial drug based on ancient Chinese herbal medicine, it was announced Monday.
“I was a little bit surprised, but not really,” she said of the moment she learnt of the award as she watched television.
“It’s because (this prize) is not an honour just for me, but an honour for all Chinese scientists.”
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Husband Li Tingzhao told AFP that Tu, who suffers from diabetes and ailing health, was “very tired” on account of the attention she has received since the announcement.
“She doesn’t go out often” and was not thinking about holding a press conference, Li said.
He did not know whether the retired traditional medicine specialist would be fit to travel to the awards ceremony at the end of this year.
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Tu, who won the prestigious Albert-Lasker in 2011 and has long been considered a frontrunner for the Nobel, has described artemisinin as “a true gift from old Chinese medicine”.
The 2015 Nobel prize for medicine was also awarded to William Campbell, an Irish-born American, and Japanese Satoshi Omura.
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang on Monday evening congratulated Yu, saying the award “reflects the dynamic progress of Chinese science and technology”.