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The Development of Life Science in Taiwan
On December 11, 2015, Huang Pien-chien, the founding dean of the College of Life Science and his wife Huang Chow Ru-chih, both Academicians of Academia Sinica, attended a book signing held at the College of Life Sciences for their recently published memoirs Heritage and Creativity—Reflections of Two Academicians. During the event they shared some highlights of their academic work over the years.
 
Deputy-minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology Jason Lin and former NTHU President Chen Lih-juann were on hand to offer their congratulations. With many past and present members of the NTHU community in attendance, the event had the air of a family reunion.
 
Professor Tzeng Chyng-shyan of the Institute of Bioinformatics and Structural Biology said that the book recounts Huang’s early life, his return to Taiwan, and how he helped to establish NTHU’s College of Life Science—the first of its kind in Taiwan. Up to that time life science research in Taiwan was mainly focused on biology. However, by integrating mathematics, physics, and chemistry Huang succeeded in changing the dominant paradigm and established a new research tradition which was quickly picked up by other universities in Taiwan and East Asia.
 
In Taiwan research in the life sciences (biomedicine, molecular biology, biotechnology, etc.) can be traced back to 1964 when Academia Sinica, National Taiwan University, and NTHU began to jointly invite overseas scholars to participate in summer seminars. Afterwards, with support from the National Science Council, National Taiwan University and NTHU jointly organized a "Seminar on the Latest Developments in Genetic Engineering," inviting distinguished overseas scholars to present their research findings. Then in 1987, about ten researchers in various fields of life sciences held a symposium to discuss how to further promote life sciences in Taiwan.
 
Professor Tzeng said that as early as 1964, Li Kwoh-ting, Vice Chairman of the Council for International Economic Cooperation and Development, in his capacity as a member of the Sino-American Scientific Cooperation Committee, conducted a survey of bio-related scientific research in Taiwan, including manpower, equipment, and areas of research. The survey was conducted in preparation to set up a scientific research center, thus prompting Huang and Huang-chow to return to Taiwan to learn more about the research environment of the time. In 1983 Li visited the United States to encourage eminent Taiwanese scientists to return to Taiwan and participate in the establishment of the Institute of Molecular Biology at Academia Sinica. Huang-chow was appointed as the director of the preparatory office and her husband served as distinguished fellow in administrative affairs and academic development.
 
In 1992 Liu Chao-shiuan, the president of NTHU at the time, invited Huang to return to Taiwan and serve as the founding dean of the College life Sciences. Afterwards the department of biological science at other universities in Taiwan also began to apply related research in mathematics, physics, and chemistry to explore the mysteries of biological diversity and the biological mechanisms of genetic regulation.
 
Professor Tzeng also noted that twenty years ago some people grumbled about the fact that all the departments of biology around Taiwan changed their name following the lead of NTHU. Actually, Huang and Huang-chow fully recognize the great importance of the traditional approach; their aim was simply to incorporate the research methods of mathematics, physics, and chemistry into the exploration of knotty problems in their field. This pioneering approach has resulted in a number of important discoveries over the last two decades, and has also exerted a noticeable influence in neighboring countries.
 
The life story of Academicians Huang and Huang-chow demonstrates the importance of dedication and diligences in the pursuit of scientific research. Their new book is an invaluable source of information on the development of the life sciences at NTHU and Taiwan.
 
Huang Pien-chien, Professor of John Hopkins University (USA) and the founding dean of NTHU’s College of Life Sciences.

Huang Pien-chien, Professor of John Hopkins University (USA) and the founding dean of NTHU’s College of Life Sciences.

(Front row, left to right): Professor Wang Wen-ching of the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology; Professor J. L. Yang, assistant dean of the College of Life Sciences; Jason Lin, deputy-minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology; Chen Lih-juann, former NTHU president; Huang Pien-chien; Huang-chow Ru-chih; Wang Zhenbang, author of Heritage and Creativity; wife of Kung Hsing-jien; and Kung Hsing-jien, president of the National Health Research Institute.

(Front row, left to right): Professor Wang Wen-ching of the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology; Professor J. L. Yang, assistant dean of the College of Life Sciences; Jason Lin, deputy-minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology; Chen Lih-juann, former NTHU president; Huang Pien-chien; Huang-chow Ru-chih; Wang Zhenbang, author of Heritage and Creativity; wife of Kung Hsing-jien; and Kung Hsing-jien, president of the National Health Research Institute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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