Facing the camera on May 22, newly appointed Center for Disease Control Director-General Su Ih-jen (
Su, who shuttled between hospitals in both northern and southern Taiwan in the week after his appointment, believed that epidemic prevention work had helped by the facts that health-care workers had made significantly improved their knowledge about infection as well as preventive measures, and that the general public are also familiar with SARS to some extent.
Has he had any difficulty adapting from the role of an academic who likes to do research and write articles, to that of an official standing on the firing line and handling myriad epidemic-prevention measures?
Su said, "At this point, I have an unshirkable sense of mission as a member of the intelligentsia."
It is the social responsibility of an academic to contribute to the country and society at a time when the country is facing difficulties, and Su is a man who wants to do things. He hopes he won't have too many administrative strictures. He only hopes to do things well.
Su once said, of "truth, goodness and beauty," he likes beauty best because he feels that beauty is the sum of all things and events, and that this is also the case in the area of medicine. For this reason he has collected many works of art, including Ju Ming's (朱銘) sculpture Cattle herd, Li Keran's (李可染) painting Cowherd and buffalo and Hsu Pei-hung's (徐悲鴻) painting Woman washing clothes.
People who know him believe he is a sincere but stubborn person who never looks back or compromises once he feels something is the right thing to do. He admitted that he is "a relatively short-tempered person with not enough patience," but his meticulousness and pursuit of excellence are the good points about him.
Born in 1950, Su is a native of Hsuehchia Township in Tainan County. After graduating from National Tainan First Senior High School, he was admitted into National Taiwan University's College of Medicine.
His classmates in the college included former Department of Health chief Twu Shiing-jer (塗醒哲) and former CDC chief Chen Tzay-jinn (陳再晉).
Later he acquired a master's degree in pathology and then a doctorate. He also passed the Senior-grade Civil Service Examinations and qualified as a public-health physician.
After his graduation from NTU, he did his military service at the Tri-service General Hospital and then worked as a resident physician at the internal medicine department of the Veterans General Hospital.
Later he was a hematopathology researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle and an attending physician at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital.
He also served as a visiting assistant professor at Harvard University's Beth Israel Hospital, an associate professor in pathology at the NTU College of Medicine, a cancer researcher at the University of Birmingham in England and a pathology professor at the NTU College of Medicine.
His CV also features a tenure as a visiting scholar at the Microbiology and Tumor Biology Center of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, head of the pathology department at National Cheng Kung University, director of the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Institute of Clinical Medicine, head of the pathology department at NTU Medical College and a CDC consultant and director of the clinical research team at the National Health Research Institutes.