At the Shanghai Science and Technology Award Conference held on March 23, 2018, Professor Kurt Hermann Wüthrich, distinguished professor of ShanghaiTech University’s iHuman Institute, was presented the 2017 Shanghai International Science and Technology Cooperation Award.
Professor Wüthrich was appointed as Distinguished Professor of the iHuman Institute of ShanghaiTech University in 2013 and has installed the first Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) laboratory at the University. Professor Wüthrich has made outstanding achievements in the research of biological macromolecules (proteins and nucleic acids) using high-resolution NMR technology. He was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his development of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for determining the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules in solution. He is a Foreign Associate, US National Academy of Sciences (1992), Associé étranger, Académie des Sciences, Institut de France (2000), Foreign Member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences (2004), and a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, UK (2010).
Professor Wüthrich has made significant contributions to the development of the Chinese scientific research community. From 1978-1984, he served as Secretary General of the International Union of Pure and Applied Biophysics (IUPAB). From 1983 onward, he visited China, had in-depth exchanges with universities and scientific research institutes, and contributed to the foundation for China’s successful participation in IUPAB and other international organizations. In 1986, Professor Wüthrich organized the first school of biophysics in Beijing under the auspices of UNESCO and the International Federation of Pure and Applied Biophysics. Professor Wüthrich and his wife have visited China many times and made great contributions to the promotion of scientific and technological exchanges and cooperation both at home and abroad.
Professor Wüthrich’s NMR research group at ShanghaiTech currently has 10 people, and is equipped with world-class 600 and 800 MHz NMR spectrometers. He introduced fluorine NMR to conduct research on the dynamic characteristics of the challenging G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). He actively promotes collaborations between ShanghaiTech University and the Scripps Research Institute and Harvard University of the United States, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the Institute of Biophysics of CAS in Beijing, the University of Science and Technology of China, Tsinghua University and the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica. Cooperation between these universities and research institutes has actively promoted the application of solution NMR technology in China.
Professor Wüthrich is currently one of the leading lecturers in the structural biology course at ShanghaiTech University. He teaches graduate students NMR for the determination of three-dimensional structures of biological macromolecules. In addition, Professor Wüthrich has given many general lectures for ShanghaiTech students such as My Life as a Scientist. He believes that curiosity has a very important role in promoting scientific research. He advocates the combination of happy research and excellent life.
Professor Wüthrich is not the first ShanghaiTech recipient of the Shanghai International Science and Technology Cooperation Award. In 2015, Professor Raymond Stevens, founding director of the iHuman Institute, was also a recipient. This highlights the potential of the iHuman Institute in connecting international high-end scientific research resources and strengthening international cooperation. As an internationally advanced research institute, the iHuman Institute has gathered a group of well-known domestic and foreign scholars who are engaged in an ambitious “imaging across scales” project. Breakthroughs in the field have been published in top journals, including Cell and Nature. Scientific talent combined with a high-level scientific research platform, a rigorous and pragmatic research strategy, and an open and active atmosphere of academic exchange have enabled the iHuman Research Institute to evolve into a world-class research institution.