'China's Nobel Prize' awards domestic scientists for outstanding achievement in basic scientific research
Published: Aug 21, 2022 09:32 PM
Photo: A screenshot from website of the Future Science Prize

Photo: A screenshot from website of the Future Science Prize

The 2022 Future Science Prize, a privately funded science honor established by a group of renowned scientists and entrepreneurs, dubbed "China's Nobel Prize," was awarded on Sunday to three Chinese scholars for their outstanding achievement in basic scientific research, a thrilling boost to encourage innovation in the country's basic science.

The Life Science Award, the Physical Science Award, and the Mathematics and Computer Science Award of the 2022 Future Science Prize respectively went to Li Wenhui, Yang Xueming, and Mok Ngai-ming, with each of them winning $1 million, the award organizer announced. 

Lin Chao, rotating chair of the scientific committee of the 2022 Future Science Prize, said the awardees' research has achieved great international influence. It is the spirit of exploration and unremitting scientific research of these scientists that have broadened human beings' cognitive boundaries in the macro and micro world, and set the direction for an uncertain future.

Li, a senior research fellow from the National Institute of Biological Sciences and a professor from Tsinghua Institute of Multidisciplinary Biomedical Research, was awarded the prize because he had discovered sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide - a functional receptor for hepatitis B and D virus infection in humans which helped develop more effective drugs against the virus.

His findings are widely recognized by international peers as it has shed light on the molecular mechanism of hepatitis B and D virus infection which contributes to more effective prevention and treatment of hepatitis B and D to be developed. 

Yang was awarded the Physical Science Award for the development of a new crossed molecular beam crossed molecular beam apparatus, making a breakthrough in the quantum resonance phenomenon and geometric phase effect in chemical reactions.

Yang is an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a professor at the Southern University of Science and Technology and a research fellow from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics. 

The winner of the Mathematics and Computer Science Award is Mok from Hong Kong University. Mok created the minimally rational tangent variety theory and applied it to solve a series of conjectures in the field of algebraic geometry. He also proved the Ax-Schanuel conjecture on Shimura varieties. This theorem has become an important tool in the field of algebraic geometry. 

The Future Science Prize aims at recognizing scientific breakthroughs and innovations in China with long-term significance to the world. Chinese research fellows generally believe the selection of renowned scientists will play a positive role in encouraging innovation in basic science in China and arouse scientific enthusiasm among young people. 

Liu Dingzhen, a professor from the College of Life Sciences, Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times on Sunday that encouraging China's basic science is of great significance, because basic science takes a long period of time to harvest achievements but it is one of the key factors for the country to resolve bottlenecks in technology, secure supply chains in global competition and achieve the goal of becoming a powerful nation in science and technology.

The prize committee, composed of 23 outstanding scientists, is at the core of the award selection. The award ceremony of the 2022 Future Science Prize is scheduled to be held in November. 

Since 2016, 24 winners have been awarded the Future Science Prize, all of whom have been widely recognized both in scientific circles and in society. Last year, Yuen Kwok-yung and Joseph Sriyal Malik Peiris from the University of Hong Kong, won the prize in life sciences for their major discoveries of SARS-CoV-1 as the causative agent of the global SARS outbreak in 2003 with impact on combating COVID-19 and emerging infectious diseases. Simon Sze from a prestigious university in the island of Taiwan won the prize in mathematics and computer science.

Previous laureates included the late Yuan Longping, known as "the father of hybrid rice" who was awarded the Life Science Prize in 2018 "for pioneering the use of hybrid vigor to achieve higher yield and increased stress resistance in rice."