The School of Life Sciences at Fudan University (SLSFU) was established by the late Professor Jiazhen Tan (C.C. Tan) in 1986, by combining the Department of Biology, which was founded in 1926, and the Institute of Genetics. It was the first School of Life Sciences established in Chinese universities. It has been one of the most well-known Chinese institutions for promoting biological research and for nurturing both researchers and educators who devote themselves to the field of life sciences and technologies. Its current Dean is Professor Hong Ma.
The SLSFU is organized in three parallel structures: departments, research institutes/centers, and key laboratories. The SLSFU consists of five departments: Department of Biochemistry, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Department of Genetics and Genetic Engineering, Department of Microbiology and Microbial Engineering, and Department of Physiology and Biophysics. In addition, there are six research institutes (or research centers): Institute of Biodiversities, Institute of Developmental Biology and Molecular Medicine, Institute of Genetics, Institute of Plant Biology, Center for Biotechnology, and Center for Evolutionary Biology. Moreover, the SLSFU has a nationally funded “State Key Laboratory of Genetic Engineering” and two key laboratories supported by the Ministry of Education: the Key Laboratory of Biodiversity and Ecological Engineering and the Key Laboratory of Contemporary Human Biology.
The SLSFU has two undergraduate programs (Biological Sciences and Biological Technology) and is accredited to offer M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in the field of Biology with eleven sub-disciplines, including Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bioinformatics, Biophysics, Botany, Developmental Biology, Ecology, Genetics, Human Biology, Microbiology, Neurobiology, and Zoology. The school also has a nationally supported postdoctoral program in the field of Biology, with 12 positions each year.
Among the SLSFU sub-disciplines, Genetics and Ecology have been selected as the national key disciplines (a competitive designation with some additional funding); Biophysics was chosen as a Shanghai key discipline. In addition, the SLSFU faculty participates in other national key disciplines, including Neurobiology, Pathogen Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Physiology, with sister institutions within Fudan University, such as the Medical School. Genetics was twice designated as “The Best Discipline” by the Ministry of Education in the two most recent consecutive reviews, and supported by “the 211 Program” of the Ministry of Education for strengthening education and training and “the 985 Program” of enhanced support by the Ministry of Education for top ~40 Chinese universities.
The SLSFU currently has 240 research and instructional faculty and staff members, including 50 full professors and 50 associate professors. Among these, one is a Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, three have been selected by the “Thousand Talents Program” (recently launched by the Chinese government to recruit full-professor level experts from overseas), four hold the Cheung Kong Professorships endowed by Ministry of Education, eight have been awarded the National Outstanding Young Investigator Scholarship (45 years ago or younger), and four are appointed as Distinguished Professors by Fudan University. In addition, two professors are the principle investigators of projects from the National Basic Research Program of China (the 973 Program; such projects are multiinstitutional, with funding of up to 30 millions Chinese Yuan), an indication of their leadership in their respectively fields of research.
There are more than over 1200 students currently enrolled in the school, including 580 undergraduate students and 680 graduate students. “Widening the horizon, enhancing the basics, strengthening abilities, and promoting innovation” is the teaching philosophy of the school. By implementing multiple training strategies, the school has nurtured many excellent undergraduate and graduate students. Some of them have been awarded the National Excellent Doctoral Dissertation Award (five times thus far) and some have won the first prize of the Challenge Competition of National Undergraduate Thesis (five times). The Chinese government has provided funds twice in recent years through a program called “Establishment of National Personnel Training Bases”; both times, the SLSFU was rated as “excellent” (top level) for training the next generation of research personnel.
In the last five years, the SLSFU faculty has played leadership or major roles in a number of nationally funded research projects. Those funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology include 16 projects from the National High-Technology Research and Development Program (863 Project), 9 projects from the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Project), 6 projects from the Special Program on Infectious Diseases, 5 projects from the Special Program of Genetic Modification, 1 project of Major Research Project of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NNSFC). In addition, 94 projects and 4 key projects have been supported by NNSFC, and more than 327 projects have been supported by provincial or ministerial agencies.
In addition, the school faculty members were granted more than 10 new drug certificates and approval for clinical trials, and were granted the second prize (as the leading institute) of the National Natural Science Award, the second prize of the National Technological Invention, and more than 30 awards granted by the national and provincial governments, as well as the Ministry of Education and others. In the last five years, the SLSFU faculty members have published ~1000 papers in SCI-indexed journals, including 29 papers published in the influential journals (SCI impact factor ~10 or greater) such as Nature, Science, JCI, and PNAS.
The school strives to promote international scientific exchange and cooperation, and its faculty members have interacted and collaborated with members of many leading international universities and research institutes. The school has organized a number of international conferences and has an internationally well-known reputation.
As part of the further growth and strengthening of the SLSFU, Fudan University will build a brand new Life Sciences Building, which is to be completed in 2011. The new school building will bring together all of its faculty and students, who currently occupy all or portions of 9 different buildings. The new building will be located in the Jiangwan campus, a brand new campus of Fudan University, and has 39,000 m2 of space for research and teaching. An adjacent building will house the largest mouse facility in China for state of art research. The new Life Sciences Building will provide the space needed for the SLSFU for education, research and administration, including offices, teaching laboratories, research laboratories, core facilities, meetings rooms, animal facilities, as well as rooms for preserved specimens. A modern greenhouse and plant growth room complex will be constructed near the new buildings. With the sustained efforts of the faculty, staff and students, the School of Life Sciences will have a very bright future in education and research.