On November 18th, 2021, the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) announced its list of newly elected members with Wu Tangchun, a professor in the School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, honored as this year's newest member.
A world-class scientist in occupational and environmental health, Professor Wu Tangchun is Dean of the School of Public Health. Earning his Ph.D. from Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in 1993, he has made outstanding academic contributions to the realm of air pollution and health.
Through a 44-year follow-up study of a cohort of 74,000 dust exposed workers, his team raised and addressed the critical issue of increased lung cancer and coronary heart disease deaths due to silica dust exposure. The study provided crucial evidence for the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to identify silica dust as a lung carcinogen, contributing to the revision of occupational health standards in China and the United States. The implementation of the revised new standards has significantly reduced the incidence of pneumoconiosis and lung cancer.
In response to the global health issue of household solid fuel use, his team conducted a 9.8-year follow-up study of more than 510,000 residents (the world's largest sample size to date). The study revealed for the first time that indoor air pollution from domestic solid fuel cooking and heating is a critical cause of premature death; and suggested that switching to clean energy is an effective countermeasure to reduce residential deaths. Adequate ventilation can also reduce deaths from many diseases caused by indoor air pollution from cooking with solid and clean fuels. These economical and feasible preventive measures have constructively changed the prevention response in China and the world.
He has devoted himself to studying the main components (e.g., PAHs, titanium, arsenic, copper) and the mechanisms (e.g., heat shock proteins, DNA methylation) of air pollution causing cardiopulmonary damage, providing significant evidence for the development of environmental quality standards and the precise prevention of related diseases. Facing the COVID-19 pandemic, he evaluated the effectiveness of the pandemic prevention and control methods in Wuhan, predicted the pandemic trend, and confirmed the effectiveness of adopting the joint prevention and control mechanism in China. His team also revealed the highly infectious and insidious nature of the virus transmission. These scientific findings continue to provide strong scientific support for controlling the outbreak.
Professor Wu Tangchun has made outstanding contributions to uncovering the causes of environmental diseases, elucidating the pathogenesis, and formulating preventive measures. His research have led preventive medicine practice to create a clean environment and promote a healthy life in China. He has published 402 papers in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Nature, Journal of Clinical Oncology Circulation, etc. His papers have been cited 14,328 times in top journals such as CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, the New England Journal of Medicine, Nature. He has edited three books, including the textbook "Occupational Health and Occupational Medicine" and "Environment and Precision Prevention," which won the second prize of the National Natural Science Award and the National Science and Technology Progress Award, and two second prizes of the National Teaching Achievement Award.