Professor Zhu Chen ForMemRS
Chen Zhu is a haematologist who has made exceptional contributions to global medicine and to healthcare reform in China. In a research career dedicated to understanding and treating blood cancers, Chen pioneered molecular-targeted combination therapy for acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL). Now, most people diagnosed with APL have a positive long-term outlook.
In APL, immature blood cells called promyelocytes build up in our bone marrow. This is very dangerous, preventing healthy blood cells from being produced. Chen showed that two compounds — all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and arsenic trioxide (As2O3) — induce promyelocyte maturation and destruction. ATRA and As2O3 are now commonplace lifesaving treatments for people with APL.
Born in Shanghai, Chen is politically active and served as Minister of Health for China between 2007 and 2013. During this time, he led ambitious and successful health reforms to improve access to healthcare throughout the country, and he remains engaged in public health issues affecting the people of China.
Interests and expertise