By Greg Hugh, Staff Writer
China’s Health Minister, Dr. Chen Zhu, recently paid a busy three-day visit to Minnesota
during which he received an honorary doctor of science degree from the University of
Minnesota for his contribution to leukemia treatment through research. Minister Chen
was accompanied by his wife Dr. Chen Saijuan who is also a renowned hematologist
and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. During his brief visit he met
with the president of the University of Minnesota and faculties of the Medical School,
Masonic Cancer Center, School of Public Health and College of Science of Engineering.
The Association of Minnesota Chinese Physicians (AMCP) along with the China Center
also hosted a number of activities.
Minister Chen is a renowned scientist who has conducted breakthrough research into
the treatment of leukemia. He was the first to use the synergistic cancer targeting
therapy and he developed the first successful model in the treatment of acute
promyelocytic leukemia (APL). His work on APL turned this once fatal form of cancer
into a curable disease. He has brought this passion into his work as Minister of Health,
pledging to bring universal coverage to all children facing catastrophic illness in China.
Over the last three years, China has worked to transform healthcare by incorporating
nearly universal coverage of basic health insurance, expanding coverage for essential
drugs and increasing access to basic public health services.
As the United States wrestles with its own questions about the future of health care
reform, the man many credit with pushing China’s health system forward came to the
University of Minnesota to discuss how China has made such progress, and how other
countries can benefit from lessons China learned along the way.
Upon his arrival Minister Chen quickly settled into his hotel and attended at a welcome
dinner at the Tea House restaurant on University Avenue.
The following day Minister Chen and his group toured the Twin Cities and enjoyed
a Lake Minnetonka cruise with Chinese physicians hosted by US-China Healthcare
Information Exchange (USCHIE) and AMCP. Later that day, they attended a meeting
with health care industry executives. Concluding the day of social activities was a
dinner and program with the medical community hosted by AMCP.
On his final day in Minnesota, Minister Chen attended a round table forum held by the
University of Minnesota and China Health Connections and ended his stay in Minnesota
with a visit to Eastcliff, residence of the president of the University of Minnesota during
which he received an honorary doctor of science degree.
The bestowing of this honor made the front page of the Oct. 9, 2012, issue of the
Minnesota Daily, it was noted on campus with applause and controversy. According to
the Minnesota Daily article, some University professors disagreed with giving Minister
Chen an honorary degree because of the transplant program in China which he
According to the Minnesota Daily article, Chen said China has been working
on regulation of the civilian transplant program and that he is supportive of
the government’s work with the American Red Cross on voluntary organ
donation. “Personally I’m opposing the use of organs from that source,” Chen said.
Despite the controversy, Chen said collaboration between the University and the
Ministry of Health is still favorable. “I think there are plenty of opportunities for
cooperation in the future.”
The full article can be viewed at http://www.mndaily.com/2012/10/09/u-honors-chinese-
The following organizations sponsored activities for this visit: University of Minnesota
Masonic Cancer Center, Medical School, School of Public Health, College of Science
and Engineering; China Center; Association of Minnesota Chinese Physicians.