The life science has a long history at Tsinghua University. The Department of Biology, established in 1926, was one of the earliest education and research bases of life sciences in modern China. It has cultivated generations of prominent biologists in China. Among the academicians in the Division of Life Sciences and Medical Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and in the Division of Medical and Health of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, more than 50 members have been trained or worked at Tsinghua University. Upon the nationwide reorganization of the high educational system in 1952, the Department of Biology at Tsinghua University was transferred and merged with other universities and colleges, leading to a void of life science at Tsinghua University for 32 years. Notwithstanding, the Department of Biology was reestablished with a new name as the Department of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology in 1984. Professor Mu-Ming Poo, a world-renowned neuroscientist was appointed as the Department Chair, while Professor Nan-ming Zhao, a well-known biophysicist, was appointed as the Executive Vice Chair. To facilitate the rapid development of life sciences, the School of Life Sciences was founded in 2009, with Professor Yigong Shi, a world-class structural biologist, as the Dean.
During the past 97 years, especially over the past 39 years after the reestablishment of the Department of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, the School of Life Sciences keeps moving forward under the superior educational system of Tsinghua University. We uphold the spirit of “daring to be the first, pursuing excellence, being open and inclusive, being realistic and innovative”, with the goal of being at the international frontier. With the support of “Project 211”, “Project 985”, and other major national programs, we has attracted outstanding talents from homeland and abroad, seized opportunities to develop rapidly, and accomplished a series of outstanding achievements in student training, scientific research, faculty recruitment, academic discipline expansion, international exchange and collaboration, and more.
Since its reestablishment, the life science at Tsinghua University has undergone three major phases of development, including re-establishment, stable development, and rapid growth. As a result, the School of Life Sciences has become one of the most distinguished and influential institutes on life sciences in China. The School is a designated National Base for Talent Cultivation in Scientific Research and Teaching, and in Life Science and Technology. Tsinghua University Experimental Teaching Center of Modern Life Sciences is one of the first national exemplary experimental teaching centers. Currently, the School awards Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in the Biology discipline. Biophysics, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Developmental Biology are the national key disciplines. Cell Biology, Neurobiology, Systems and Synthetic Biology, Plant Biology, Physiology and Pathology are the rapidly developing frontiers.
As the School of Life Sciences develops and reforms continuously, it has established a first-class faculty team covering broad research areas. At present, the School hosts 129 full-time faculty and staff members, including 67 tenured or tenure-track faculty members, 8 teaching faculty members, 22 research faculty members, 29 experimental technique faculty members, 3 educational staff faculty members as well as 219 post-doctoral fellows and 318 regular employees. Among our faculty members, we have 9 Academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Moreover, the School actively engages in establishing first-class core facilities and research institutes, including the Tsinghua-Peking Center for Life Sciences, Beijing Frontier Research Center for Biological Structure, Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Structural Biology, and Tsinghua IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research. These core facilities and research institutes consolidate the foundation of the life science development at Tsinghua University and instill new energy into the rapid growth of life science disciplines.
Currently, the School of Life Sciences enrolls 543 undergraduate students and 1003 graduate students. Taking high-quality student training as primary task, the School constantly carries out vigorous educational reforms to improve its undergraduate and graduate selection and admission processes. We aim to create excellent and enriching education environment, to explore innovative training paradigms for top young talents, to emphasize the quality control during entire process of graduate training, and to formulate new evaluation standards for graduate degrees. All these strategies and efforts have led to remarkable improvements in student training, with more and more outstanding students and alumni emerging at the national and world stages.
2023 is the first year for the full implementation of guiding principles of the 20th CPC National Congress and a crucial year for the rapid development of life science in China. At this new junction and challenge, the School of Life Sciences will continue to develop with high standards by adhering to the principles of “maintaining the strengths, making key breakthroughs, balancing all disciplines, and achieving leapfrog advances as a whole”, promoting multidisciplinary and innovative collaborations, and striving to make original and ground-breaking achievements in both basic and translational research. The School strives to become not only the high ground for talent cultivation and cutting-edge research, but also an international hub for high-level exchange and collaboration in life sciences. We aim to provide an excellent platform for Chinese scientists to interact and integrate with the international communities, and to take a leading role in life science and biotechnology world-wide.
We sincerely welcome outstanding scholars and motivated students around the globe to visit and join the School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University.
Song-Hai Shi, Ph.D.
Professor and Dean