A Chinese scientist has won a prestigious award in the US for her discovery of a new drug therapy for treatment of malaria.
Pharmacologist Tu Youyou, 81, will be presented the Lasker Award by the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation Sep 23 in New York, Xinhua reported citing a foundation statement.
Tu, a scientist at the Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing, was praised for her “drug therapy for malaria that has saved millions of lives across the globe, especially in the developing world”, the statement said.
In 1969, Tu was appointed head of a government project that aimed to eradicate malaria.
She detected 380 extracts from 2,000 recipes, and obtained a pure substance called “Qinghaosu”, which became known as artemisinin in 1972.
An artemisinin-based drug combination is now the standard for malaria treatment. The World Health Organisation lists artemisinin in its catalogue of essential medicines.
The Lasker Awards are given annually to people who have made major advances in the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure and prevention of human diseases since 1945.
Lasker awardees are also dubbed “America’s Nobels” for their knack of gaining future recognition by the Nobel committee. Since 1945, 80 Lasker laureates have gone on to receive the Nobel Prize.