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Virologist Hou Yunde won the State Preeminent Science and Technology Award
Hou pioneered China’s molecular virus research and created the first genetically engineered drugs in China.

Explosives expert Wang Zeshan (left) and virologist Hou Yunde (right) won China's top science award for their outstanding contributions to scientific and technological innovation. They received the award from Chinese President Xi Jinping (middle).

The State Preeminent Science and Technology Award is the highest scientific award issued by the President of the People's Republic of China to scientists working in China.

This year, the top award goes to explosives expert Wang Zeshan and virologist Hou Yunde. They received the award certificates from President Xi Jinping.

Hou Yunde (Chinese: 侯云德) is a virologist, geneticist and a genetic engineer. After graduating from the Wuhan Medical School, he studied at the Ivanovsky Institute of Virology in the USSR for 4 years, receiving a kandidat nauk (PHD) degree in medical sciences. He continued his virology work after returning to China in 1962. He laid the foundation for China’s molecular virus research and created the first genetically engineered drugs in China. He is nicknamed the "Father of Chinese Interferon" for his work on clinical-grade human leukocyte interferon production in the late 1970s. Hou also started one of the first Chinese genetic engineering drug companies in 1990s. He was the vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and continues his work as a researcher at the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention well into his 80s.

The award comes with a prize of 5 million RMB, with 10 per cent of this awarded as a bonus to the scientist and the remainder awarded to support the scientist's research.

Started in year 2000, this award is presented to a maximum of two scientists every year. The scientists that won this coveted prize in 2000 were agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, who is famous in China and worldwide for the hybrid rice technology, and mathematician Wu Wunjun. In year 2004 and 2015, no prize in this category was awarded.

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