“Every scientist dreams of doing something that can help the world.”
Tu Youyou was fortunate to grow up in a household that valued education and made it a high priority for all their children. This educational background throughout primary and secondary school allowed Tu to follow her interest in pharmacology.
Driven by curiosity and the desire to not only keep herself healthy but others as well, Tu immersed herself in chemistry-based experiments that expanded her expertise with traditional Chinese medicine, while also adopting Western medicine techniques.
With this unique mixture of education, and at a time where malaria was beginning to threaten the Chinese population, Youyou was recruited to join a research team with the hopes of curing the illness. Shortly after joining, Tu became the new head of the mission and left the comfort of the lab to study how malaria affected human health on a southern Chinese island.
After multiple experiments and references to previous cases of the illness, Tu’s team began looking to sweet wormwood as a possible ingredient to the cure. After numerous attempts to extract correctly, the clinical trials eventually produced promising results.
Believing wholeheartedly in the medicine, and that it was her responsibility as head of the team, Tu Youyou volunteered to be the first human trial for the new drug. Her drug was ultimately a success and has since saved millions of lives.
Tu Youyou’s impressive career path earned her a Nobel Prize and she was the first Chinese women to achieve such a distinction.
We have one more day left in our celebration for Women and Girls in STEM, stay tuned for another incredible story!
To learn more about Tu Youyou’s impressive career, check out the links below: