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Tue, Apr 18, 2000 - Page 2 News List

David Ho agrees to head biotech committee

BUILDING BRIDGES President-elect Chen Shui-bian has invited the renowned biotechnology researcher, currently visiting, to steer the country's research in the field

By Liu Shao-hua  /  STAFF REPORTER

David Ho, right, who pioneered the AIDS cocktail therapy, meets with President-elect Chen Shui-bian, left, yesterday.

PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

After congratulating President-elect Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday on his March 18 election victory, world-renowned AIDS researcher David Ho (何大一) accepted an invitation by the future president to act as chief advisor to a biotechnology committee under the new government.

Chen also said he hoped biotechnology could function "as a bridge between the US, China and Taiwan, and that it could lead to cross-strait peace and common Asia-Pacific interests."

Chen invited Ho, currently on a visit to Taiwan, to assist Taiwan in developing biotechnology.

Ho, considered good friend of Chen's and a member of Academia Sinica, said: "biotechnology is important to Taiwan, and I am happy to provide an advisory service."

However, Ho said since Chen had not yet made any formal request regarding the appointment, he could not say more for the moment.

Chen said he had recently talked with Academia Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) -- also the convener of Chen's national policy advisory committee -- over the development of Taiwan's biotechnology research.

Chen said Ho and Lee would meet at a later later to talk more about the issue. In addition, Chen said, he would formally invite Ho to take the position of head advisor after the presidential inauguration on May 20.

"I would like to turn Taiwan into a manufacturing and service center for biotechnology," Chen said.

Ho said three conditions are necessary for the development of biotechnology. First, he said, talent was the most important factor.

"A critical mass of talent is required to develop biotechnology," Ho said, adding that there is a lot of overseas and domestic talent in this field.

Secondly, he said the government should get involved in facilities and funding, to show its strong commitment to this goal. And third, he said, private donations were also crucial in ensuring continued funding.

Flashing his trademark boyish smile, Ho emphasized that he visited Chen just to say "hello" and to offer congratulations yesterday.

Chen, however, said he hoped Ho could dedicate himself to his home country in the future.

Ho was born in Taichung in 1952 and left for the US at the age of 12. He returned to Taiwan in 1996 after he was chosen as Time magazine's Man of the Year for 1996, in recognition of his revolutionary work in drug therapies to combat AIDS.

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