The discovery of artemisinin and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Sci China Life Sci. 2015 Nov;58(11):1175-9. doi: 10.1007/s11427-015-4948-7.


The 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Professor Youyou Tu for her key contributions to the discovery of artemisinin. Artemisinin has saved millions of lives and represents one of the significant contributions of China to global health. Many scientists were involved in the previously unknown 523 Project, and the Nobel Prize given to a single person has not been without controversy. Here we summarized some key events in the 523 Project and present our views on the Award to help the public better understand the rationale of the Nobel committee’s decision, the significance of the discovery, and current issues related to artimisinin in treating malaria.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • News
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Antimalarials / therapeutic use
  • Artemisinins / therapeutic use*
  • China
  • Drug Discovery / history*
  • History of Medicine*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Nobel Prize*
  • Physiology / history*


  • Antimalarials
  • Artemisinins

Personal name as subject

  • Youyou Tu