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10 Fun Facts about Tu Youyou--The Woman Who Found a Cure!

10 Fun Facts about Tu Youyou--The Woman Who Found a Cure!

Wanting to inspire young girls interested in science or STEM? Then you’ll NEED these facts about Tu Youyou–The woman who cured malaria.

Who Is Tu YouYou?

Tu YouYou (1930- ) was the first Chinese woman to receive a Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. She discovered a cure for malaria by testing plants recommended by traditional Chinese medicine. 

10 Interesting Facts about Tu YouYou

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1. She was born in the port city of Zhejiang Ningbo on December 20th, 1930.

The City's definitely changed since 1903. As for Youyou, that makes her 93 years old!

2. She graduated from Peking University.

This is a picture of their health sciences building.

Peking University is one of the top ranked academic institutions in China, and was founded in 1898!

3. Her first research project used the Lobelia chinensis, a traditional Chinese herb, to treat snail fever.

Snail fever is also called Schistosomiasis, and is caused by parasitic flatworms. Ew! We won't show you a picture of that, so please enjoy this image of a snail.

4. Tu YouYou was the head of a military research project called Project 523.

The project was called this because the group first formed on May 23rd, and are featured in the picture above!

5. Youyou’s job on the research team was to test prescriptions from old Chinese medicine.

From the years of 1969–1972, over 240,000 compounds were tested, but none were successful.

6. Modern lab equipment was so scarce that Youyou often used large clay pots.

She boiled, squeezed, and soaked the herbs in order to extract the compounds, which she then tested on mice that had been infected with the malaria parasite.

7. She and the research team took to Hainan island to not only find more extractions, but to also test compounds on infected people.

Pictured above is a photo of the island!

This was the first time the research team saw what Malaria did to the human body. They worked for two years to try and find an extract that would work, but to avail

8. Youyou began testing medicine on herself.

After repeated exposure to so many chemicals (over 240,000 compounds!), Youyou’s health took some serious hits. One researcher, Cui Shilian, died due to the toxic exposure. Youyou still persevered, and began testing the medicine on herself.

9. YouYou and her team found the cure on October 4, 1971.

Youyou and others tested this extract on themselves, and found that it cured 100% of the malaria parasite. It was later used on patients in Beijing and on Hainan Island!

10. She was the first Chinese woman to win a Nobel prize!

Youyou received her award in the year 2015 in physiology and medicine. That was the fourth Nobel prize given for malaria research, but the first one given to a Chinese woman!

Tu Youyou’s efforts changed the world! Because of her, there’s a cure to Malaria. As a woman in science, Youyou is and remains as an inspiration to those who wish to pursue the sciences. Especially girls!



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About Darcy Pattison

Children’s book author and indie publisher DARCY PATTISON writes award-winning fiction and non-fiction books for children. Five books have received starred PW, Kirkus, or BCCB reviews. Awards include the Irma Black Honor award, five NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books, two Eureka! Nonfiction Honor book, two Junior Library Guild selections, two NCTE Notable Children’s Book in Language Arts, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book, an Arkansiana Award, and the Susannah DeBlack Arkansas Children’s History Book
award. She’s the 2007 recipient of the Arkansas Governor’s Arts Award for Individual Artist for her work in children’s literature. Her books have been translated into ten languages.

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