Photo: A. Mahmoud
Born: 30 December 1930, Zhejiang Ningbo, China
Affiliation at the time of the award: China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Beijing, China
Prize motivation: "for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria."
Prize share: 1/2
Youyou Tu was born and raised in Ningbo, Zhejiang, China. She studied at the Peking University in Beijing. Since 1965 she has worked at the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where she is now Chief Scientist. Youyou Tu is married and has two daughters.
A number of serious infectious diseases are caused by parasites spread by insects. Malaria is caused by a single-cell parasite that causes severe fever. Traditional Chinese medicine uses sweet wormwood to treat fever. In the 1970s, after studies of traditional herbal medicines, Youyou Tu managed to extract a substance, artemisinin, which inhibits the malaria parasite. Drugs based on artemisinin have led to the survival and improved health of millions of people.