WANG Zhenyi

Wang Zhenyi, expert of internal medicine and hematology, fellow of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, foreign fellow of the French Academy of Sciences in telecommunication, lifetime professor at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, lifetime professor at Ruijin Hospital, and honorary director at Shanghai Institute of Hematology. His major achievement lies in the differentiation of acute promyelocytic leukemia cells induced by all-trans retinoic acid and the significant improvement of the complete remission rate and long-term survival rate of patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia in clinic.

In 1978, Doctor Wang, then 54, started his experiment in a lab with an area of less than five square meters, trying to find a solution to the acute promyelocytic leukemia which posted a challenge to the doctors worldwide. In the following eight years, he kept screening and experiments, finally finding a cure of this kind of leukemia: all-trans retinoic acid.

In 1994, Wang Zhenyi won the Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Prize, the highest prize of the international oncology, thus becoming the first Chinese who won such honor over the past century. In 2010, Wang won China’s Highest Science and Technology Prize of the year.

On March 18, 2019, the program of “2018 China’s Doctors of Virtue” was broadcast at CCTV-1, in which Wang Zhenyi, aged 95 then, from Ruijin Hospital affiliated with Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, received the honor. The jury commented that “Wang harbors a kind heart of treating and saving patients. He has cultivated four academicians and passed his rich knowledge and high morality to the next generation. He has upheld the divinity of medicine with his life and passion.”

At the interview, Wang said that it was the most painful thing for him to witness the passing of patients and he could do nothing but standing aside, despite that he knew well what kind of disease they suffered from. Talking about this, he couldn’t help but shedding silent tears. He swore that he would try his best not to let any life taken away by such diseases.

Over the past 77 years, Wang has brought new life to countless patients suffering from acute promyelocytic leukemia around the world, and cultivated numerous medical talents for the country; he has cultivated three academicians: Chen Zhu, Chen Saijuan and Cheng Guoqiang, who are influential in the Chinese medical circle.

Wang Zhenyi says doctor is a satisfying occupation. He would be very happy when the patients under his treatment are cured. As for reputation and profits, he compared himself to “a simple peony.” Given that he pursues excellence at work and tries to treat and save more patients, during which he would feel very happy, he compares himself to peony, less in wealth but rich in spiritual fulfillment.