Zhong Nanshan (Chinese: 钟南山; pinyin: Zhōng Nánshān; born 20 October 1936)[1] is a Chinese epidemiologist and pulmonologist who discovered the SARS coronavirus in 2003.[2] He was president of the Chinese Medical Association from 2005 to 2009 and is currently the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Thoracic Disease.[2]

Zhong Nanshan
Zhong Nanshan (cropped).jpg
Zhong in 2015
Born (1936-10-20) 20 October 1936 (age 83)
Alma materPeking University Health Science Center
University of Edinburgh Medical School
Known fordiscovering the SARS coronavirus
Spouse(s)Li Shaofen [zh]
Scientific career
FieldsPulmonology, respiratory diseases
InstitutionsGuangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases
Guangzhou Medical University

Zhong earned international fame for managing the SARS outbreak,[3] and was renowned for refuting the official line which downplayed the severity of the crisis.[4] He was voted one of China's top 10 scientists in 2010.[5] During the 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan, he was again appointed as a leading advisor in managing the crisis.[4]


Zhong was born in October 1936 at Central Hospital in Nanjing, Jiangsu, Republic of China,[6] with his ancestral home in Xiamen, Fujian.[7] Zhong was educated at the Beijing Medical University and finished his residency training in internal medicine in the university hospital. In 1980s, he completed further training at the St Bartholomew's Hospital in London and the University of Edinburgh Medical School between 1979 and 1981. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh Medical School with an MD in 1981.[2]


Zhong became president of the Chinese Thoracic Society in 2000. He became president of the Chinese Medical Association in 2005. He is currently the director of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Thoracic Disease.[2] Zhong has discovered the relationship between protein malnutrition and COPD and has developed a calibrated formula on energy consumption for patients with COPD.[6]

During SARS OutbreakEdit

The Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases, directed by Zhong Nanshan, received the second-ever case of SARS patient as early as 2002.12.20. Over the next month, 28 more similar cases were reported in Zhongshan alone. As a result, on 2003.1.21, Zhong, together with other doctors and researchers in related fields, reported this special disease at an emergency meeting and gave it the name Atypical pneumonia.[8][9] This marked the beginning of the fight against SARS.

On 2003.1.28, Zhong felt sick. Shortly after, he took an X-ray and realized that he had caught pneumonia. This was an extremely terrible news in the wake of SARS because the news of one of the leading researchers and doctors for respiratory diseases felling sick would cause fear and panic for the general public. As a result, Zhong decided to not receive treatment in the hospital; instead, he went back home, hoping that it was just a regular pneumonia and that he could get over it without treatment, even at the age of 67. With the meticulous care from his wife, Li Shaofen, he indeed managed to recover after 8 days. After that, he immediately went back to Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases to direct the fight against SARS. On Feb. 11th, 2003, at the press conference held by the Guangdong Department of Health, Zhong explained the disease and its symptoms, and calmed down the public by asserting that it is "preventable" and "curable".[9]

Two of Zhong's most important contributions for the ultimate victory over SARS are the following clinical practices. First, he used, for the first time while treating SARS patients Non-invasive ventilation method, which increased the amount of oxygen that the patients could intake; this method greatly helped to alleviate the pain of the patients. Second, he insisted on proposing the use of Cortisone for the treating of patients under severe conditions. This treatment method significantly lowered the death rate of severe patients down to only 13% and decreased the total treatment time.

This second decision, however, was a politically controversial at the time. In February of 2003, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention had already published authoritative view that normal Chlamydiae was the direct cause of the so-called Atypical pneumonia. As a result, the only legally prescribed way of treating SARS patients was to use Antibiotics. Nevertheless, Zhong, basing his views on the observations of hundreds of patients here in Guangdong, was determined to push for his own way through the moderate usage of Cortisone. He said later in an interview later that he knew this might bring dishonor and defamation, but he persisted because he trusted in his observations and scientific judgements regarding the disease.[9] With the support of Guangdong government and the positive results in Guangdong in the treating of SARS disease, his method was later taken as the standard protocol to treat all SARS patients in China.[9]

When delegates led by Dr. Evans from the World Health Organization visited China in early April, Zhong presented the characteristics of SARS as well as the treatment and prevention method in China. His presentation was received with great appraisal and the subject he presented was used widely for the fight against Severe acute respiratory syndrome all over the world.[9]


Awards and Prizes
  • 2016:Guanghua Engineering Science and Technology Prize[10]
  • National Award for Advances in Science and Technology, China (1997)[11]
  • National Role Model of Labors (2005)[11]
  • WAO Awards for Distinguished Recognition (2007)[11]
Paper of the Year
  • The Lancet 2008: The editorial board praises "Zhong Nanshan and his team clarified that Carbocisteine ​​(Carbocisteine) can prevent the worsening of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and can improve life at an affordable price, which is of great significance to developing countries. " (Note: The editorial board selected 6 papers for readers to vote, and finally announced two winners, one selected by the editorial board and one with the highest reader votes. Zhong's paper obtained the highest number of votes.)[12][13]
Professional Titles
  • 1989:Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians[11]
  • 1993:Member of the European Respiratory Society[11]
  • 2005:Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland[11]
  • 2011:Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh[11]
  • 201?:Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London[14]
Honorary Degrees
  • 2005:Honorary Fellow of Hong Kong Academy of Medicine[11]
  • 2008:Honorary Fellow of the European Respiratory Society[11]
  • 2007:Doctor of Medicine (Honors), University of Edinburgh[15]
  • 2011:Honorary Doctor of Science, University of Birmingham
  • 2013:Honorary Doctor of Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong[16]
Professional Societies
  • 1985-1990: Member, WHO Advisory Panel on Smoking & Health[11]
  • 1982-1985: Member, Executive Committee, Chinese Medical Association[11]
  • 1989-2000: Member, Executive Committee, American College of Chest Physician[11]
  • 1989-present: Fellow, American College of Chest Physician (FCCP)[11]

Personal lifeEdit

Zhong Nanshan and Li Shaofen in 1963.

Zhong was an outstanding college athlete in the 1950s. The Beijing Municipal Track and Field Team attempted to recruit him as a full-time athlete, but he was determined to become a doctor and declined the offer. Through his sports connection, he was introduced to Li Shaofen [zh], a top basketball player who was a member of the China women's national basketball team for 13 years. They married on 31 December 1963.[17] They have two children: son Zhong Weide and daughter Zhong Weiyue. Zhong Weide is a physician, and Zhong Weiyue is a swimmer.[18]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "钟南山" (in Chinese). Chinese Academy of Engineering. Archived from the original on 23 June 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d "Editor-in-Chief: Prof. Dr. Zhong Nanshan, MD". Journal of Thoracic Disease. Archived from the original on 17 July 2013. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  3. ^ "SARS hero Zhong Nanshan named China's best scientist". whatsonxiamen. Archived from the original on 3 February 2015. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  4. ^ a b "The coronavirus discovered in China is causing global alarm". The Economist. 23 January 2020. ISSN 0013-0613. Archived from the original on 26 January 2020. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  5. ^ "SARS hero named among China's 10 best scientists, technicians". Xinhua. Archived from the original on 20 December 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Zhong Nanshan". The HoLeung Ho Lee Foundation. Archived from the original on 6 June 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  7. ^ "院士钟南山回乡传授长寿秘诀". www.taihainet.com. Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  8. ^ "不明原因肺炎". Baidu Baike. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d e 叶, 依 (2010). 钟南山传. 北京: 作家出版社. pp. 49–52. ISBN 978-7-5063-5267-3.
  10. ^ 王, 硕 (2016.6.1). "政解|中国工程院光华"成就奖"为何两度空缺?". Ifeng News. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Curriculum Vitae of Nan-Shan ZHONG (PDF). 澳門科技大學. 2013 [2020-02-09].
  12. ^ Summerskill, W. (2009). Paper of the year 2008: results. The Lancet, 373(9660), 283–284.
  13. ^ Zheng JP, Kang J, Huang SG, et al. Effect of carbocisteine on acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (PEACE Study): a randomised placebo-controlled study. Lancet 2008; 371: 2013–18.
  14. ^ Honorary Editors-in-Chief: Nanshan Zhong, MD. Annals of Translational Medicine. [2020-02-09].
  15. ^ 鍾雪冰. 鍾南山膺愛丁堡大學榮譽博士. 香港文匯報. 2007-03-23 [2020-02-09].
  16. ^ 梁元生. 讚辭: 鍾南山院士榮譽理學博士. 香港中文大學頒授學位典禮專頁. 2013 [2020-02-09].
  17. ^ "钟南山的妻子是女篮5号". Sina. 16 June 2003. Archived from the original on 16 September 2019. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  18. ^ "钟南山曾是400米栏全国纪录保持者 娶女篮名将为妻". Sina. Archived from the original on 22 January 2020. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
Academic offices
Zhang Wenkang
President of Chinese Medical Association
Chen Zhu