Home >>Local

"Using nanozymes to benefit hometown is my dream" - Interview with Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Director of the Academic Committee of the Henan Provincial Academy of Medical Science

Source:dahe.cn Published:2024-03-12 10:55

"Using nanozymes to benefit hometown is my dream"

- Interview with Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Director of the Academic Committee of the Henan Provincial Academy of Medical Sciences, and Director of the Central Plains Nanozyme Laboratory, Yan Xiyun



Starting work as early as 7 in the morning and still in discussions past 10 at night, the work rhythm of Yan Xiyun, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Director of the Academic Committee of the Provincial Academy of Medical Sciences, and Director of the Central Plains Nanozyme Laboratory (CPNL), is always at full throttle.


"It is my responsibility and mission to establish the laboratory, and with the strong support and guidance from the Provincial Committee, Provincial Government, and the Provincial Academy of Medical Sciences, I cannot let down their trust and support," said Yan Xiyun, softly yet firmly, on February 28th.


Known as the "Goddess of Science", Yan Xiyun is also the discoverer of nanozymes. Her research achievements were selected for the "Top Ten Advances in Chinese Science" twice, in 2007 and 2012, which paved the way for a new field in medical catalysis with nanozymes. Technological innovation is the key to enhancing new productive forces, and in Henan, where talents are eagerly sought, there has long been anticipation for a laboratory leader like her.


Why come to Henan? Her answer is simple: "Moved by the heart, then action."


It all started more than four months ago. On October 15th last year, the plaque for CPNL was unveiled by Lou Yangsheng, the Henan Provincial Party Secretary. Yan Xiyun, who was brought in full-time by the Provincial Academy of Medical Sciences, officially took over as the director of CPNL. Since then, the goal of "leading the way for the development of the nanozyme industry in Henan" has been set.


Everything made her excited.


"The call from my hometown for scientific talent moved me deeply, and the emphasis placed on scientific talent here touched me even more," Yan Xiyun said emotionally. She told reporters that she came across a video posted on the Henan Daily App by chance. "In that video, the Provincial Party Secretary Lou Yangsheng called on talents from home and abroad, especially those from Henan, to return and display their talents, achieve success, and benefit the people in this fertile land."


A call to "come back" stirred Yan Xiyun's long-standing aspiration. The simple desire to study far and contribute to one's hometown is the humble aspiration of a researcher.


"Using technology to benefit the people is the belief of scientists. I am a daughter of the people of Henan, and using nanozyme technology to benefit my hometown is my dream," Yan Xiyun said.


In 1974, after graduating from high school, Yan Xiyun worked as a sand casting worker in a car parts factory in Kaifeng. In 1977, she became one of the first batch of university students to be admitted after the resumption of the college entrance examination and graduated from the original Henan Medical College. After being assigned to work in a hospital, a chance encounter led her to switch from medicine to biology. While at the Institute of Biophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, she received mentorship from Academician Bei Shizhang. Later, she pursued her doctorate at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. In 1997, she was selected for the "Hundred Talents Program" of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and returned to China to pursue her own research career...


A chance experiment led her to discover the mystery of enzymes. Yan Xiyun's team found that when iron oxide nanoparticles are reduced to the nanoscale, they exhibit catalytic activity similar to "natural enzymes". This was the first time in the world that the enzymatic properties contained in nanomaterials were explored from the perspective of enzymology.


The original discovery, made in the blink of an eye, opened up a new interdisciplinary field—the birth of nanozymes, bridging the gap between nanomaterials, chemical catalysis, and enzymology. In 2007, this achievement was published in Nature Nanotechnology, hailed as the foundation of the nanozyme field, and opened up a new domain.


Experts in the industry generally believe that nanozymes are a new field opened up by Chinese scientists, and Chinese nanozyme research leads globally from basic research to applied research. More importantly, nanozymes, as a new material, have shown promising prospects in many fields such as medical catalysis, sensing detection, green synthesis, new energy, pharmaceuticals, and environmental governance. Today, more than 400 laboratories in over 40 countries worldwide are engaged in nanozyme research. New varieties, new technologies, and new products emerge in endless succession, forming a new emerging interdisciplinary field of nanozymes. In 2022,  nanozymes were selected as one of the top ten emerging technologies by International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).


"To translate the achievements of the laboratory into downstream applications is a more challenging path, but only in this way can we fully tap into the application potential of nanozymes." From the discovery of nanozymes to the application of nanozymes in tumor biology research and disease diagnosis and treatment, Yan Xiyun and her team are working hard to transform the research achievements of nanozymes into new materials, new technologies, and new products.


So, what can CPNL bring to Henan? Nanozymes, known as the new generation of "chemical magicians", will wield greater "magic" in fields such as medicine, chemical industry, and food in our province.


Yan Xiyun said that CPNL will focus on key issues in the nanozyme field, with the goal of building an internationally leading innovation hub for nanozymes. It will promote theoretical research on nanozymes, the development of Generic Technology, and the construction of enterprise incubation platforms. Focusing on the needs of industrial upgrading in Henan Province and leveraging the unique advantages of nanozymes, the laboratory will create new technologies, promote demonstration applications of nanozymes in biomedicine, green agriculture, and green industry, foster nanozyme industry clusters, and inject new vitality into the transformation and upgrading of related industries in Henan Province.


"The ultimate goal of medical research is to safeguard the lives and health of the people." Yan Xiyun explained that CPNL places scientific and technological innovation at a high level of focusing on the lives and health of the people. Taking advantage of Henan's medical resources and the concentration of the biopharmaceutical industry, the laboratory will develop nanozyme catalytic medicine around local characteristic diseases such as esophageal cancer. This has become an innovative discipline in Henan Province, radiating throughout the country and even globally, establishing related disciplines related to nanozymes, and promoting the construction of "Double First-Class" disciplines in Henan.


Daring to challenge, constantly resetting. Yan Xiyun frankly said that from being a sand casting worker to going to university, from studying medicine to nano-biology... every step she has taken has been a climb amidst constant resets. In several important choices in life, boldly breaking through and stepping out of the comfort zone, she has faced greater challenges and achieved more breakthroughs.


This time, this scientist from Henan will witness the blooming of her dream in her hometown.

这一次,这位河南的女科学家将在自己的家乡见证梦想花开。(中文来源:河南日报 记者:李倩 李晓敏 编译 审校:宋根成 周金淼)

Editor:Zhou Jinmiao