No­bel win­ner’s home be­comes in­stant at­trac­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai zhouwent­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s ad­mi­ra­tion of out­stand­ing scholars has turned the well-pre­served child­hood home of Tu Youyou, the Chi­nese phar­ma­col­o­gist who won this year’sNo­bel Prize in Phys­i­ol­ogy or Medicine, into a pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tion.

Since it was an­nounced on Mon­day that 84-year-old Tu had be­come the first Chi­nese citizen to win the in­ter­na­tional prize, her for­mer home in the old town of Ningbo, Zhe­jiang province, has at­tracted visi­tors, es­pe­cially par­ents and their chil­dren— even though it is not open to the public.

The house, which is for sale, is part of a com­plex of 37 tra­di­tional build­ings, in­clud­ing sev­eral city- and dis­trict-level cul­tural relic preser­va­tion sites, that have been trans­formed into a high-end art and com­mer­cial zone.

Tu won the prize for de­vel­op­ing a life­sav­ing malaria drug, artemisinin, a sta­ple of tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine, which has helped save mil­lions of lives across the globe.

“There are con­tin­u­ally par­ents tak­ing their chil­dren, from in­fants in strollers to col­lege stu­dents, to take photos in front of Tu’s for­mer home. Se­cu­rity guards have been or­dered to go on pa­trol around the clock,” said a sales­per­son sur­named Zhao, from Ningbo Real Es­tate Inc Co.

Shang­hai res­i­dent Xu Lingfei, who was on a trip to Ningbo, took her 9-year-old son to walk around the com­plex on Wed­nes­day.

“Chi­nese peo­ple be­lieve in ex­ams and awards and have a strong pref­er­ence for high per­form­ers. Tak­ing chil­dren to visit the for­mer dwelling places of celebri­ties is a way to in­spire them to study harder,” Xu said.

Some­thing sim­i­lar hap­pened af­ter Mo Yan won the No­bel Prize for literature in 2012.

Tourists started vis­it­ing Mo’s for­mer home in ru­ral Gaomi, Shan­dong province, in an end­less stream start­ing the day af­ter he won the prize.

There are con­tin­u­ally par­ents tak­ing their chil­dren to take photos in front of Tu’s for­mer home.”

Some even plucked the radishes planted in front of the house and carted away some bricks.

Tu’s for­mer res­i­dence, where she lived un­til she went to univer­sity in Bei­jing, cov­ers an area of 2,200 squareme­ters and is priced at 150 mil­lion yuan ($23.6 mil­lion).

The house was built by her ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther, Yao Yong­bai, who was once a mem­ber of the Ningbo Gen­eral Cham­ber of Com­merce and a pro­fes­sor at Shang­hai’s Fu­dan Univer­sity. It is owned by her un­cle Yao Qingsan, an economist and for­mer pres­i­dent of the Ningbo-Hong Kong Fel­low­ship As­so­ci­a­tion.

Another site that has­be­come a big­ger tourist drawthese­days thanks to Tu’s suc­cess is the Luo­fuMoun­tain scenic area in Huizhou, Guang­dong province, where Ge Hong, a TCM master of the Eastern Jin Dy­nasty (AD 317-340) picked herbs, de­vel­oped herbal medicines and wrote the clas­sic Man­ual of Clin­i­cal Prac­tice and Emer­gency Reme­dies.

Af­ter win­ning the Lasker Award in the United States in 2011, Tu said she and her team were inspired byGe’s the­ory to solve the puz­zle in ex­tract­ing artemisinin from the herb Artemisia an­nual, also known as sweet worm­wood.

A gar­den and a mon­u­ment on Luo­fuMoun­tain com­mem­o­rate Ge’s ded­i­ca­tion. The moun­tain is home to 3,000 species of plants, in­clud­ing more than 1,200 with medic­i­nal uses.

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