Academia Sinica fellows Kenneth Wu (伍焜玉) and Huang Shu-min (黃樹民) and National Taiwan University professor Lee Lin-shan (李琳山) have been selected as the recipients of this year’s Presidential Science Prize.
The three are to receive the award along with a NT$2 million (US$61,143) cash prize at the end of this year for their contribution in the fields of life science, social science and applied science respectively, according to a statement from the Presidential Office.
Renowned for his research in hematology and prostaglandins, Wu was the first to discover that cyclooxygenase — an enzyme responsible for the formation of prostanoids — is inducible and the inhibition of the cyclooxygenase can provide relief from the symptoms of inflammation and pain.
The discovery has led to a new understanding of anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, and of therapies of serious inflammatory syndromes such as sepsis, autoimmune disease and systemic lupus erythematosus.
The Presidential Office statement said Wu also discovered how aspirin could ease blood clotting by dissolving platelet aggregates, which has seen the wide clinical use of the drug to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Meanwhile, Huang was selected for the prize for his achievement s in anthropology, agriculture study, Aborigines and minority study.
His book on the development of Chinese villages since the Chinese economic reform in 1978, The Spiral Road: Change in a Chinese Village Through the Eyes of a Party Leader, has been recognized as a canonical work in the fields of China studies and contemporary anthropology, which has been translated into Chinese and Korean and has sold more than 30,000 copies, a rare achievement for an academic publication, according to the Presidential Office.
His studies of the diaspora of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) forces in northern Thailand and how they transitioned from opium trade to orcharding describe the national and cultural identification in the era of globalization, the office said, adding his works on Taiwanese Aborigines have been one of the major reference points in the field of social science.
Lee was one of the few pioneers in developing computer-aided processing of Chinese languages by developing and then putting forward the world’s first computer analysis system of Chinese morphological units, as well as the world’s first computer program to analyze complicated syntactic structures of Chinese languages.
His studies have advanced the development of natural language processing and computational linguistics, giving rise to software such as voice search, while improving the program’s ability to process and associate speech signals to maximize correct search results, the presidential office said.
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