Life sciences on the rise to success at ECNU


According to the latest version of the Essential Science Indicators (ESI) database from Thomson Reuters published on May 11 eleven disciplines from ECNU jumped to the global top 1 percentile ranking. The ESI database ranks a total of 22 disciplines, and according to the latest results ECNU holds the 17th-most top 1% disciplines among all Chinese Universities. 

The university's life science programs are showing lots of progress, with biology and biochemistry disciplines as the latest additions to the global top 1% list. So far, three disciplines in the field have made the list, including plant and animal science, and clinical medicine. Through many years of hard work to improve the School of Life Sciences at ECNU the discipline continues to favor advantage in the academic field.

As one of ECNU's dominant disciplinary subjects, the plant and animal science entered ESI's global top 1% in January 2012. In the 1950s and 1960s ECNU's animal and plant disciplines belonged to the Department of Biology, and were considered to be the best among Chinese peers and scholars alike that cultivated a stronghold of renowned professors, including Xue Deyu, Zhang Zuoren, Wang Zhijia, Zheng Mian, Chen Yanzhuo, Wang Zongqing, Yan Jiqiong, Lan Suo, Du Nanshan, Zhou Benxiang and Qian Guozhen. In 1982, the animal science discipline became one of the first group of disciplines of any Chinese university permitted to establish a doctorate program for the field. Three years later, the plant sciences discipline was next to follow suit when they offered doctoral programs in 1985. 

Though in recent years the plant and animal sciences has worked to optimize their research orientations and accumulate distinct advantages in the subjects of aquatic animal nutrient metabolism, crustacean reproduction and immunity, biology of aquatic animal evolution, protozoology, zooecology, bryophyte biology, plant molecular physiology and plant postharvest pathology. Along with these proper adjustments the discipline continued to revamp its’ top-tier research team, who are well-recognized in national and international academic circles for their innumerable achievements in theoretical and applied scientific research. The honors accredited to them for their work include the second prize of the 2010 National Science and Technology Progress Award, the first prize of 2007 Ministry of Education Natural Science Award, the first prize of 2005 Shanghai Science and Technology Progress Award, and the second prize of 2005 Shanghai Natural Science Award. Some of the research has been industrialized; consequently yielding remarkable social and economic returns in the field of plant and animal sciences.

Despite being an emerging discipline that sprung up relatively late, the biology and biochemistry discipline has expanded in recent years. The first doctoral programs were set up in 2001, then in 2007 ECNU introduced an overseas research team led by Prof. Liu Mingyao who was a member of the first batch of brightest minds recruited by China's Thousand Talents Program. With the invaluable help of Prof. Liu ECNU was able to set up the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, that has since brought about 10 years of successive work in the biology and biochemistry disciplines.

The Biomedical Sciences Institute strives to become China's top-rank, internationally recognized institute for biomedical sciences. The institute aims to explore frontier research topics in international biomedical research, focus on studies in the biological mechanism of critical illnesses that plague human beings, and use theoretical and applied research to make outstanding contributions to clinical development.

In December 2011 the institute was approved by the Shanghai government to set up the State Key Lab of Regulatory Biology; upon being officially inaugurated in May 2013 the lab received an excellent lab rating in two citywide assessments in 2013 and 2016 respectively.

It is important to note that the institute also has a notable mechanism for talent cultivation that has gained the attention of the world's top scientists and scholars worldwide. The institute currently has 15 independent research groups compared to only seven PIs created at the beginning of its establishment.

In 2011 the research team was nominated to the Program for Yangtze River Scholars and Innovative Research Team of the Ministry of Education of China. Since 2013 many members of the research team have also been acknowledged for the success of their own individual work, the following honors obtained by some of the members include:

- 1,000 Young Talents Program of the Organization Department of the Central Committee of the CPC

- China’s 10,000 Talents Plan

- National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars Science Foundation for the Excellent Youth Scholars of Ministry of Education in China

- Young Scientist Awards 

- Yangtze River Scholar Award (2016)

The research team also founded a crucial exploration-point for scientific research in the domain of analyzing molecular mechanism in biological phenomena, of which they have already published nearly 500 papers in the Science Citation Index (SCI). Moreover, their work has won 280-strong provincial and ministerial scientific research projects that have combined for more than 100 million yuan in funds. In 2006 alone, the research team published over 90 papers in SCI academic journals, seven of them appeared in Nature, and 11 of the papers received an impact factor rating higher than 10.

The institute is also actively expanding its industry-university-institute cooperation with local hospitals and other biomedical enterprises in a bid to accelerate clinical transformation of biochemistry and molecular biology research findings. They have already set-up the ECNU-Shanghai Changzheng Hospital Bone Tumors Research Center, ECNU-Hainan Medical University-Affiliated Hospital Gene-editing & Disease Treatment Joint Research Center, ECNU-Fengxian District Central Hospital Translational Medicine Research Center, and ECNU-Changning District Women and Children Healthcare Research Center. 


East China Normal University