China's top legislature on Friday approved the cabinet nomination of Chen Zhu, a non-Party member, as the country's new health minister.
Chen, 54, is the second non-Party member to be given such a key appointment since the late 1970s following the appointment of Wan Gang as minister of science and technology in April this year.
Wan is a member of the China Zhi Gong (Public Interest) Party. He used to be an automobile engineer at Audi Corporation in Germany.
Chen, a Jiangsu native born in Shanghai, was sent to the countryside in Jiangxi Province for re-education in 1970 during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). During the five years in the countryside, Chen learnt medicine by himself and became a barefoot doctor.
In 1975 he was selected to study at a medical school in Jiangxi, and in 1978 he went back to Shanghai for graduate studies.
Chen obtained a master's degree in medical science from Shanghai Second Medical University in 1981. He received his doctorate from the Institute of Hematology of Hospital Saint-Louis, connected to University Paris VII, in 1989. He was also involved in post-doctoral programs in the French institute.
Back in China, he spent most of his time in Shanghai, working in hospitals and institutes on blood-related diseases and molecular immunology.
Chen won international acclaim for his achievements in the clinical and molecular study of the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia.
He got the State Scientific and Technological Award by the Chinese government and became the first non-French winner of "Prix de l'Qise" by "La Legue Nationale contre le Cancer" of France.
He is an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the French Academy of Sciences and the United States National Academy of Sciences.
His previous positions include director of the Chinese Human Genome Center in Shanghai and Shanghai Institute of Haematology at Ruijin Hospital.
Before the latest appointment, Chen was vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He was said to have made great efforts to boost the development of China's life sciences and biotechnology, and attract overseas Chinese scholars and scientists back to China.
(Xinhua News Agency June 29, 2007)