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2012 Spring Festival Address by Director Ya-Ping Zhang
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2012-03-21
2012 Spring Festival Address by Director ZHANG Yaping

Honored current and retired staff, graduate students, colleagues from associated organizations, others who have been caring for and supporting our institute, and all your families;

On behalf of the Kunming Institute of Zoology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KIZ), I wish you all a happy new year!

As we enter 2012, I would like to say a few words to mark the occasion.

Last year was the key point for the KIZ to complete the “Eleventh Five-Year Plan” and launch “Innovation 2020”. Our staff and graduate students have made great efforts and also achieved much. There are quite a few events worthy of being marked and celebrated.

Our “Eleventh Five-Year Plan” which included goals for “One orientation, three magnificent breakthroughs and five key training directions” went through the assessing of plan evaluation committee, and received approval from CAS. Based on this, as the only selected institute of western China, the KIZ is honored to have obtained support from the “Renovation 2020 pick over” in the life sciences field. 

Our institution was also honored in other ways. The State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution ranked number one in the five-yearly site evaluation, organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, making the lab not only one among nine outstanding State Key Labs, but also the only lab in western China to obtain this title.

The international evaluation specialists’ team echoed these thoughts, saying the honor is “a tribute to the excellent progresses it has achieved in basic research, cooperative environment and academic phenomenon”, and further, “the general development of KIZ is very impressive.”

According to the plan of CAS, the KIZ took the lead and successfully completed the “Twelfth Five-Year” development project of strategical biological resources and bio-diversities, one of the four key fields of life sciences of the CAS. The KIZ also arranged several corresponding leading special projects, and put forward the proposal for the “973 plan” of 2012. Further, we commenced work at the Barcode of Life, South Center, also headed by KIZ, facilitating the development of international DNA bar-coding plan in China.

The construction of “CAS-Yunnan Government Laboratory of Biodiversity in Southwest China” went smoothly this past year, and has now reached its final stage. The construction for the “the Institute of Southwest China Resources and Life Science Technologies, CAS” has also achieved great breakthroughs and the 160 acres’ construction lands are being implemented at full speed. Moreover, the “Kunming Biodiversity Center for Large Scale Facilities, CAS” is fully functioning and open already, strengthening the innovation abilities of southwestern China.

Centered on the “Two Facings” guidelines of the CAS, we have been focused on research in three key developmental areas: non-human primate animal model establishment and novel medicine renovation, gene pool evolution, and domestic animals (pig, sheep, dog and silkworm) gene resources discoveries. Much has been accomplished in all of these areas over the past year. As of November 2011, 182 academic articles—144 of which are SCI articles—have been published. Among these, nine have an impact factor higher than 9.0, three were published in Cell and its series journals, one appeared in Nature Biotechnology, and three in PNAS. At the same time, the KIZ also obtained seven applied patents and five authorized patents.

Concurrently, the KIZ continued undertaking 270 understudied projects: 56 from the science and technology ministry of China, 78 from state natural science foundations, 42 from Yunnan provincial projects, 46 CAS projects, 27 cooperative institutional and enterprise projects, and 6 projects of international cooperation. All of this was supported by accumulated financial funding of ¥6.7 billion as of October, 30 2011.   

The KIZ also values the talent it has recruitmented. The total finances alloted for faculty member recruitment was more than 30% of the KIZ’s entire renovation budget. Faculty members who gained support from “the Hundred Talents Program” could expect ¥1.5 million of starting funding, while the faculty members from abroad with an associate professor’s position could have nearly¥2.0 million.

In 2011, Professor ZHOU Juming, from the Wistar Cancer Research Center in the United States, started his own lab at the KIZ, gaining support from both the “Yunnan Province High level Scientists Program” and the “Hundred Talents Program” of the CAS. Professor ZHAO Xudong, who has also studied in the US set up his own lab at the KIZ through the support of the “Hundred Talents Program”. Meanwhile, we launched the “Young Talents Program”, aimed at cultivating and supporting young scientists. To date, almost 60% of the researchers at the institute are under the age of 35.

As for the construction of our research platforms, in 2011, the “Kunming National High-level Bio-safety Research center for non-human Primate” received further investigative funding for ¥3.2 billion. Meanwhile, the “State Biological Industrialization Base-Experimental Animal Center” has began its test run. More importantly, the Kunming Primates Research Center, the first facility to pass the AAALAC (the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care) accreditation in Yunnan province and throughout the entire CAS system, has maintained full accreditation and the “Transform Chemical Biology Research Center”, which includes several world-renowned ion-channel scientists, is under construction, directed by Professor YANG Jian from Columbia University, US.

As for the industrial applications of biology, the KIZ has some wonderful news to share. Orcinoside, a novel, natural anti-depression medication—cooperative venture by the “Tropical Characteristic bio-resources research center, KIZ”, Kunming Jingbiao Bio-technology, Ltd. Cop, and Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB)—has received official written notice for phase I, II, III clinical trials. Phenchlobenpyrrone, a new chemical medicine used for Alzheimer's therapy—another joint venture between the KIZ, KIB and Yunnan Shipurui Bio-technology Ltd. Cop—has also received the official written notice of phase II and III clinical trials.

Though we are here to bid farewell to a productive year, we are also here to greet the coming future. In 2012, the KIZ will continue focusing on the “Twelfth Five-Year” developmental plan, making the best of the bio-diversity resources in southwest China and Southeast Asia, committed to clarifying the critical scientific questions of “genetics, development and evolution.” We will also emphasize the construction of severe disease primate animal models and new experimental animal models, diseases mechanisms and new medication research, and the substantial use of domestic animal genes and animal origin polypeptides. Together, KIZ’s innovative research teams are leading our institute towards becoming a world-renowned research center.

In sum, let us celebrate a new year, a new beginning, and together we can see a more successful future of the KIZ.

Again, I wish you all a happy and healthy new year!

ZHANG Yaping

Director of the Kunming Institute of Zoology, CAS  

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Spring Festival, 2012

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