AWARDEE OF LIFE SCIENCES PRIZE
Zhang Qifa, an outstanding expert of plant molecular biology and crop genetics and breeding. He was born in December 1953 in Gong’an County, Hubei Province. He earned his B S in 1976 in Huazhong Agriculture College, and Ph D in 1985 in the University of California, Davis, where he also worked for one year as a post-doctoral research fellow. He is currently a professor and Dean in the College of Life Science and Technology, Huazhong Agriculture University, and the Director of the National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement.
Dr. Zhang is one of the scientists who have thrived under very difficult infrastructural and financial conditions. He is now recognized as one of the world leaders in the application of the genomics research in solving important problems related to crop genetic improvement by firm establishment of a world-class program in crop biotechnology in Central China. He conducted a series of studies characterizing the kinds, amounts and distribution patterns of the genetic variation in germplasms of world barley and Chinese rice, which has significant implications in crop evolution and germplasm utilization. He has been very active in rice genome research including constructing high density molecular marker linkage maps, mapping and cloning important rice genes and determining the genetic bases of a number of complex traits such as photoperiod sensitive male sterility, wide compatibility, disease resistance, quality and yield related traits. He has made a lot of efforts in finding novel approaches for hybrid rice improvement and conducted extensive studies in the genetic basis of heterosis. He has also been heavily involved in the development of new rice varieties by integrating biotechnology into hybrid rice breeding programs.
He has also made considerable contributions to the scientific communities by serving in numerous committees both in national and international programs. Also important are his contributions to higher education in China in general and curriculum developments in Huazhong Agricultural University in particular, in addition to being the major professor for over 60 graduate students in the last more than ten years.
Dr. Zhang published over 120 scientific papers in the last 15 years. He received numerous awards and honors including the elections to the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1999 and to the Third World Academy in 2000.