Zhong Nanshan: Model of society

By Li Zheng
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, July 27, 2011
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Zhong Nanshan, 74, is an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, where he studies respiratory diseases.

A lifelong dedicated communist, Zhong personifies the Party's remarkable scientific advancements during the glorious struggle against the deadly SARS epidemic in 2003.

Zhong Nanshan

Zhong Nanshan

When authorities said chlamydia was found in two initial lung tissue biopsies in Guangdong, doctors suggested using antibiotics to treat similar cases.

But Zhong had his own opinion. He thought chlamydia might be one cause of death, but not the only cause of SARS. Under his guidance, an effective treatment method was discovered not long after, and Guangdong achieved the lowest mortality rate and highest recovery rate for SARS in China.

Zhong was honored as part of the "Moved China" campaign in 2003.

Fighting swine flu in 2009, Zhong Nanshan again played a major role.

In early 2011, a mysterious virus dubbed "negative AIDS" caused panic after some patients claimed the infection caused AIDS-like symptoms, despite blood tests showing they were HIV negative.

Zhong promptly organized a panel of experts and set about to observe and research the patients. The mysterious virus turned out to have a simple explanation: AIDS phobia.

"Mr Zhong showed us his relentless, unflappable spirit in this incident," said Zheng Jinping, deputy director of the research center of respiratory diseases in Guangzhou. "He is cautious and independent and open-minded. No data, no claims."

For decades, Zhong has also taught. His students span the country. In 2010, in order to reform medical education and cultivate more medical talent, Zhong interviewed and selected students for a 32-student "Nanshan class." Zhong worked as head teacher. The small class aimed to provide more hands-on training, student-teacher interaction and international perspective than the average course. Chinese medical students are often taught in big groups and seldom get the chance to engage in clinical practice.

"I hope that all of you can have more contact with patients from the very beginning. We should make ourselves practical and innovative, not just fluent English-speakers who work as high-ranking employees in foreign laboratories," Zhong said, speaking at the course's opening ceremony.

"Never should one stop pursuing his dream. You should make yourselves healers, rather than common doctors." Zhong said.

Zhong's attitude left a deep impression on his colleagues. "What impresses me most is his double-tube stethoscope. Compared with other portable ones, it's much heavier, but it works more precisely, so Mr. Zhong carries it with him wherever he goes," said Li Huiling, a post-doctorate fellow at the respiratory diseases research center in Guangzhou.

Even at 74, Zhong still leads the way in the medical field. "It's not unusual that many elite in our field are not CPC members, but CPC members must be elite." Zhong said. He spends nearly all his time saving patients and teaching students.

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