Life Sciences in China


Modern life sciences have been introduced into China from the West for more than 170 years; however, the fast progress was only seen in the past three decades. How China feeds its people and keeps them healthy remains a mystery for many Westerners. Chinese life scientists have done their best to increase the yields of rice and other crops, and develop vaccines and treatments to combat the major diseases in China. Thanks to the fast growing economy, the Chinese government input in research and development was significantly increased and led to the great leap forward of life sciences in the past 30 years. The stories behind the past and present life sciences in China are permeated with legends, and they are worthwhile knowing.

Key Concepts

  • Life sciences in China are mainly supported by the government.
  • The Chinese government looks at life sciences as the driving force for sustainable economic growth.
  • Feeding the huge population and keeping the people healthy are the main challenges faced by Chinese life scientists.
  • The leap forward of genomics and the significant increase of government input led to the fast progress of life sciences in China.
  • Stem cell research and neuroscience are the fastest growing fields in China.

Keywords: life sciences; China; publication; NSFC; CAS

Figure 1. Annual gross expenditure of R&D in China (2003–2012) (billion RMB).
Figure 2. Annual budget of NSFC (2003–2012) (billion RMB).


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Wang, Yihuang, Wen, Zhaojun, and Chen, Zhu(Feb 2015) Life Sciences in China. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0025083]