Zhong Nanshan

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Zhong Nanshan
Zhong Nanshan (cropped).jpg
Zhong in 2015
Born (1936-10-20) 20 October 1936 (age 83)
Alma materPeking University Health Science Center
University of Edinburgh Medical School
Known forDiscovering the SARS coronavirus
Spouse(s)Li Shaofen [zh]
Scientific career
FieldsPulmonology, respiratory diseases
InstitutionsGuangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases
Guangzhou Medical University

Zhong Nanshan FRCPE FRCP FRCPI (simplified Chinese: 钟南山; traditional Chinese: 鍾南山; pinyin: Zhōng Nánshān; born 20 October 1936)[1] is a Chinese pulmonologist .[2] He was president of the Chinese Medical Association from 2005 to 2009 and is currently the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Thoracic Disease.[2]

Zhong earned international fame for managing the SARS outbreak[3] and was renowned for refuting the official line which downplayed the severity of the crisis.[4] He was voted one of China's top 10 scientists in 2010.[5] During the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic which originated in Wuhan, he was an advisor in managing the crisis.[4]


Zhong was educated at Beijing Medical University, where he finished his residency training in internal medicine.

He completed further training at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London and the University of Edinburgh Medical School between 1979 and 1981, graduating from the University of Edinburgh Medical School with an MD in 1981.[2]


Zhong became president of the Chinese Thoracic Society in 2000 and became president of the Chinese Medical Association in 2005. He is currently the director of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Thoracic Disease.[2] Zhong discovered the relationship between protein malnutrition and COPD, and has developed a calibrated formula on energy consumption for patients with COPD.[6]

SARS outbreak

When Zhong directed the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases, they received the second case of a SARS patient as early as December 20, 2002. Over the next month, 28 similar cases were reported in Zhongshan alone, and on January 21, 2003, Zhong and other doctors and researchers in related fields reported this disease at an emergency meeting and gave it the name atypical pneumonia.[7] This marked the beginning of the fight against SARS.

On January 28, 2003, Zhong felt sick and discovered that he had caught pneumonia. Concerned that the news that a leading researcher and doctor for respiratory diseases falling ill during the SARS outbreak would cause fear and panic for the general public, Zhong decided to not receive treatment in the hospital.[citation needed] Instead he returned home, hoping that it was not caused by SARS and that he could recover without treatment. With care from his wife, Li Shaofen, he managed to recover after eight days. After recovery he immediately returned to the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases to direct the fight against SARS. On February 11, 2003, at a press conference held by the Guangdong Department of Health, Zhong explained the disease and its symptoms, and calmed the public by asserting that it was "preventable" and "curable".[7]

Zhong, for the first time while treating SARS patients, employed non-invasive ventilation methods that increased the amount of oxygen that the patients could take in and alleviated pain. Zhong also insisted on proposing the use of cortisone for the treating of patients experiencing severe conditions, which significantly lowered the death rate of severe patients to 13% and decreased the total treatment time.

The decision to use cortisone was politically controversial at the time. In February 2003 the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention had already published the authoritative view that normal Chlamydiae was the direct cause of atypical pneumonia and, as a result, the only legally prescribed way of treating SARS patients was to use antibiotics. Based on observations of hundreds of patients in Guangdong, Zhong was determined to advocate for the moderate usage of cortisone. Zhong said later in an interview that he knew this might bring dishonor and defamation, but he persisted because he trusted in his observations and scientific judgements regarding the disease.[7]

With the support of the Guangdong government and the positive results in Guangdong in the treating of SARS disease, Zhong's method was later used as the standard protocol for treating all SARS patients in China.[7]

When delegates led by Dr. Evans from the World Health Organization visited China in early April, Zhong presented the characteristics of SARS as well as the treatment and prevention method in China. Zhong's presentation was well-received and his methods were adopted around the world.[7]


Awards and Prizes
  • 2016: Guanghua Engineering Science and Technology Prize[8]
  • National Award for Advances in Science and Technology, China (1997)[9]
  • National Role Model of Labors (2005)[9]
  • WAO Awards for Distinguished Recognition (2007)[9]
Paper of the Year
  • The Lancet; 2008: The editorial board praised Zhong and his team, as they "clarified that carbocisteine can prevent the worsening of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and can improve life at an affordable price, which is of great significance to developing countries." (Note: The editorial board selected six papers for readers to vote, and announced two winners, one selected by the editorial board and one with the highest reader votes. Zhong's paper obtained the highest number of votes.)[10][11]
Professional Titles
  • 1989: Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians[9]
  • 1993: Member of the European Respiratory Society[9]
  • 2005: Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland[9]
  • 2011: Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh[9]
  • 201?: Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London[12]
Honorary Degrees
  • 2005: Honorary Fellow of Hong Kong Academy of Medicine[9]
  • 2008: Honorary Fellow of the European Respiratory Society[9]
  • 2007: Doctor of Medicine (Honors), University of Edinburgh[13]
  • 2011: Honorary Doctor of Science, University of Birmingham
  • 2013: Honorary Doctor of Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong[14]
Professional Societies
  • 1985–1990: Member, WHO Advisory Panel on Smoking & Health[9]
  • 1982–1985: Member, Executive Committee, Chinese Medical Association[9]
  • 1989–2000: Member, Executive Committee, American College of Chest Physicians[9]
  • 1989–present: Fellow, American College of Chest Physicians (FCCP)[9]

Personal life

Zhong Nanshan and Li Shaofen in 1963

Zhong was born in October 1936 at the Central Hospital in Nanjing,[6] though his family was from Xiamen, Fujian.[15]

Zhong was an outstanding college athlete in the 1950s. The Beijing Municipal Track and Field Team attempted to recruit him as a full-time athlete, but he was determined to become a doctor and declined the offer. Through his sports connection, he was introduced to Li Shaofen [zh], a top basketball player who was a member of the China women's national basketball team for 13 years. They married on 31 December 1963.[16] They have two children: son Zhong Weide, a physician, and daughter Zhong Weiyue, a swimmer.[17]

See also

  • Carlo Urbani, doctor who was the first to identify SARS and died of the disease in 2003.
  • Li Lanjuan, epidemiologist and hepatologist who won multiple national awards for her roles in combating the SARS, H1N1, and H7N9 epidemics.


  1. ^ 钟南山 (in Chinese). Chinese Academy of Engineering. Archived from the original on 23 June 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d "Editor-in-Chief: Prof. Dr. Zhong Nanshan, MD". Journal of Thoracic Disease. Archived from the original on 17 July 2013. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  3. ^ "SARS hero Zhong Nanshan named China's best scientist". whatsonxiamen. Archived from the original on 3 February 2015. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  4. ^ a b "The coronavirus discovered in China is causing global alarm". The Economist. 23 January 2020. ISSN 0013-0613. Archived from the original on 26 January 2020. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  5. ^ "SARS hero named among China's 10 best scientists, technicians". Xinhua. Archived from the original on 20 December 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Zhong Nanshan". The HoLeung Ho Lee Foundation. Archived from the original on 6 June 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d e 叶, 依 (2010). 钟南山传. Beijing: 作家出版社. pp. 49–52. ISBN 978-7-5063-5267-3.
  8. ^ Wang, Shuo (王硕) (1 June 2016). 政解|中国工程院光华“成就奖”为何两度空缺?. Ifeng News (in Chinese).
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Curriculum Vitae of Nan-Shan ZHONG (PDF). 澳門科技大學. 2013 [2020-02-09].
  10. ^ Summerskill, W. (2009). Paper of the year 2008: results. The Lancet, 373(9660), 283–284.
  11. ^ Zheng JP, Kang J, Huang SG, et al. Effect of carbocisteine on acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (PEACE Study): a randomised placebo-controlled study. Lancet 2008; 371: 2013–18.
  12. ^ Honorary Editors-in-Chief: Nanshan Zhong, MD. Annals of Translational Medicine. [2020-02-09].
  13. ^ 鍾雪冰 (23 March 2007). 鍾南山膺愛丁堡大學榮譽博士. 香港文匯報 (in Chinese). Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  14. ^ 梁元生 (2013). 第73屆大會 (2013) 鍾南山院士榮譽理學博士 (in Chinese). Chinese University of Hong Kong. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  15. ^ 院士钟南山回乡传授长寿秘诀. (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  16. ^ 钟南山的妻子是女篮5号. Sina (in Chinese). 16 June 2003. Archived from the original on 16 September 2019. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  17. ^ 钟南山曾是400米栏全国纪录保持者 娶女篮名将为妻. Sina (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 22 January 2020. Retrieved 22 January 2020.

External links

Academic offices
Dr. Zhang Wenkang
President of Chinese Medical Association
Prof. Chen Zhu
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