Beijing (People's Daily) - COVID-19 research projects are crucial to help China and the world weather the pandemic as various colleges and institutes have made major breakthroughs in relevant fields. During the two sessions, Professor Shi Yigong, President of Westlake University and a CPPCC member outlined future plans to enhance studies in disease prevention and control in an interview with the People's Daily.
The photo shows Shi Yigong paneling a group discussion during the third session of the 13th National Committee of the CPPCC. (Photo provided by Shi Yigong for the People's Daily app)
"On one hand, Westlake University will keep investing resources and propelling COVID-19 research projects and actively planning a innovation platform that will cover pioneering basic researches and clinical applications. On the other hand, we will focus on long-term projects to improve the emergency response capacity of the public health system in the country. We have established a research center recently focusing on epidemic response and medical studies. In case of any public health crisis in the future, I hope Westlake University can make contributions to the country," he added.
During the outbreak, Westlake University has played an active role in undertaking basic researches related to COVID-19. Researchers from Zhou Qiang's Lab of Westlake University report the full-length structure of ACE2, the receptor of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, as well as the 3D structure of the full-length human ACE2-B0AT1 complex in apos and the RBD of 2019-nCoV in its bounded state. Guo Tiannan and his co-workers identified characteristic molecular changes in the sera from severe COVID-19 cases, allowing prediction of severe cases using a machine learning model based on serum protein and metabolite biomarkers.
With the booming development of science and technology, China indeed has a lot to improve and progress compared with developed countries. "We haven't gained a solid grounding for scientific and technological researches, with relatively few breakthroughs in advanced theories and cutting-edge technologies. But we are always catching up with other countries vigorously, which requires the efforts of a generation and even generations of efforts. Scientific development follows its own natural patterns and cannot be achieved overnight. I hope the public to give more time and patience for basic researches," Shi noted.
The photo shows Shi Yigong standing before the Great Hall of the People during the two sessions. (Photo provided by Shi Yigong for the People's Daily app)
His proposals at this year's CPPCC mainly focused on science and technology as well as education. "After the COVID-19 pandemic, tremendous changes took place in the world and technology will gain a greater momentum. China, as a responsible global power, will bring the role of technology into full play and boost the development and progress of technology innovation in the future," said Shi. He believes that the development of science and technology depends largely on the cultivation of talents where education plays a major role. Therefore drawing a talent pool with responsibility and an innovative heart has always been a topic of major concern to him.
According to Shi, Westlake University has signed on 120 top-notch talents from home and abroad, around 90 percent from overseas. Based on the country's existing realities, all the rules and systems are set on international standards. Despite current development in targeted disciplines, Westlake University encourages inter-disciplinary designs in academic activities and student training to give full ground for new thoughts and findings.
"We hope that via a series of trials and explorations in all sectors, all the faculty and students can freely explore, dive themselves in academics and make some original theoretical research findings and key technological breakthroughs that contribute to the country, nation and the whole world," said Shi.
After working at Westlake University, Shi has been adapting to the life as a new Hangzhouer. Hence he also shed light on the development of Hangzhou and Zhejiang Province in large. Shi said Zhejiang has played a leading role in disease prevention and control of the COVID-19 by first raising the risk management response to the highest level in the early days of the outbreak, diagnosing and curing infected patients and also pioneering in the resumption of work and production. As the hub of innovation and entrepreneurship in the province, Hangzhou has attracted a large number of talents. Shi said he was looking forward to more innovative moves of Zhejiang and the capital city Hangzhou.