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Ex-Google AI chief Fei-Fei Li among Chinese honoured by US Academy of Medicine

The former head of Google’s artificial intelligence project in China is one of a number of ethnically Chinese scientists to be elected this year to the United States’ prestigious National Academy of Medicine.

Fei-Fei Li, a Beijing-born computer science professor at Stanford University and a Twitter board director, was among 90 new regular members announced by the academy on Tuesday as “individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service”.

Membership is considered one of the highest honours in the fields of health and medicine, according to the academy, which includes top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci among its ranks.

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Li was elected “for helping establish the field of vision-based artificial intelligence, engendering diverse high-yield medical applications, including her current innovative focus on health-critical clinician and patient behaviour recognition”.

She was a rising star at Google, where she worked as chief scientist for AI and machine learning (AI/ML) before leaving amid controversy surrounding the company’s contracts to develop AI tools for the Pentagon.

Twitter adds former Google AI chief Fei-Fei Li as board member

Leaked emails discussing the initiative, called Project Maven, prompted outrage among Google employees, who said they suggested Li – a frequent public advocate for the ethical use of AI – was more worried about the company’s public image than the ethical concerns of the technology.

Before that, she oversaw basic AI research, all of Google Cloud’s AI/ML products and engineering efforts, and a new Google AI lab in China.

Also elected to the academy was Harvard University physics professor Zhuang Xiaowei, who received her undergraduate degree at the University of Science and Technology before her postgraduate studies at UC Berkeley and Stanford.

She was recognised for “pioneering super-resolution imaging and imaging-based single-cell genomics” which helped uncover novel structures in cells, novel spatial and functional organisation of cells in tissues, and examples of how mis-regulation may cause disorders.

The Chinese researchers caught in a US academic no-man’s land

The academy also announced 10 new international members, including Wang Chen, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the country’s leading state research institution.

Wang, who also heads the state-backed Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, was selected for “his leadership of China’s three leading medical bodies and his impactful clinical research and medical reforms”.

Researchers in the US who are ethnically Chinese or from China have been increasingly caught in the crosshairs of deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing, with the US government stepping up its crackdown on foreign influence in science and technology research.

In July this year, the US National Science Foundation revealed that most cases of alleged violations of American rules on foreign disclosures since 2018 had been related to China. US researchers with ties to China have also been investigated for potentially violating funding rules.

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Traditional Chinese medicine popular among Russian elites amid epidemic

A Russian woman applies moxibustion to a boy to prevent virus. Photo: Courtesy of Huang Guorong

The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a history of more than 20 years spreading in Russia, especially among governmental officials and businessmen. With the development of COVID-19 epidemic in Russia, TCM has been gaining recognition in preventing virus and strengthening treatment.

The Global Times has learned that the wide use of TCM, such as Lianhua Qingwen Capsule, a Chinese herbal product, to treat COVID-19 has also helped TCM gain more attention in Russia.  

As early as in April, Lianhua Qingwen capsule has been approved for use in COVID-19 treatments in China. Beijing TCM authorities said the capsule can alleviate COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough and fatigue.

Zhang Boli, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told the media in April that Russia is considering approving the capsule as a medicine. 

A Global Times reporter in Moscow noticed that a few Russian medicine websites translated the specification of the capsule in detail and the medicine can be purchased online.

Huang Guorong, a Moscow-based Chinese doctor who graduated from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, said that more Russians have been trying TCM to prevent COVID-19 since the epidemic developed in the country.

“Compared with the Western medicine using antibiotic, the TCM focuses on the mediation of the whole body, which defends the body through strengthening your immunity,” he told the Global Times.

Photo: IC

Even though there have been introductions on TCM on Russia’s TV or newspapers from time to time, and most people in the country have heard about it, only a small number have tried it.

“In Russia, TCM is not cheap,” he said. “And some kinds of herbs have not been approved by the medicine authority in Russia yet.”

But it is understood that “the rich and powerful people would recommend their friends to try TCM once they found it useful,” Huang said.

Li Yunhai, another prestigious Chinese doctor in Moscow, said some Russian officials visited TCM doctors during the epidemic for prevention and treatment. 

Li has received a Russian official who suffered from high blood pressure, weakness and asthma after recovering from COVID-19. Li gave him skin scraping, acupuncture and herbs, and after one course of treatment, the official recovered. 

Huang would not disclose how many clients from the high-level government officials he has received, but said they include  Moscow’s district officials and members of the State Duma.

Though he has not heard if President Putin has accepted TCM treatment, he does know a Russian friend who wrote to the president’s office to advocate the use of TCM in COVID-19 prevention and treatment across the country. “But we haven’t received a reply yet,” Huang said.

Former Russian president Boris Yeltsin had a TCM therapist, Huang said, adding that the 1990s was the time when the TCM was introduced to Russia and became popular among the officials and business people, he said.

Moreover, Tibetan medicine, similar in some ways to

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Traditional Chinese medicine maker soars after top respiratory expert backs drug in potentially inhibiting coronavirus



a pile of food: Guangzhou Baiyunshan Pharmaceutical’s medicine made from Banlangen was found to be effective against the coronavirus in a series of in-vitro studies. Photo: Baidu


Guangzhou Baiyunshan Pharmaceutical’s medicine made from Banlangen was found to be effective against the coronavirus in a series of in-vitro studies. Photo: Baidu

Shares of a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) company jumped after receiving validation from the nation’s top respiratory expert on its drug’s effect against the coronavirus, joining two other peers that have enjoyed huge gains this year.

Guangzhou Baiyunshan Pharmaceutical Holdings soared 13 per cent to HK$21.75 in Hong Kong and by 10 per cent to 34.18 yuan in Shanghai on Friday, after Zhong Nanshan, the public face of China’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, said one of its products could potentially inhibit the coronavirus.

Researchers led by Zhong found that Banlangen granules, a herbal medicine popular in China for treating common cold and flu, was effective against the virus in a series of in-vitro studies, Chinese newspaper Nanfang Daily quoted him as saying during a conference on Tuesday in Guangzhou. The drug was also widely used in the country during the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak.

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Investors latched on to the hype surrounding the company even though the studies were still at an early stage and Zhong did not disclose whether or when any research paper or preclinical data will be published. The stock’s advance in Hong Kong marked its biggest daily jump since October 2018, while turnover ballooned 24 times to HK$240 million (US$31 million) from Thursday, according to Refinitiv data.



Zhong Nanshan smiling for the camera: Chinese respiratory specialist Zhong Nanshan said that one of Guangzhou Baiyunshan Pharmaceutical's products could potentially inhibit the coronavirus. Photo: Xinhua


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Chinese respiratory specialist Zhong Nanshan said that one of Guangzhou Baiyunshan Pharmaceutical’s products could potentially inhibit the coronavirus. Photo: Xinhua

Many pointed to the speculative nature of the surge on Friday. “In-vitro studies data is usually the weakest among preclinical data,” wrote Huang Jianping, general manager at asset management firm Shanghai Leader Capital, in a post published on online stocks forum Xueqiu.

Normally, pharmaceutical companies have to go through three phases of clinical trials on humans to establish the efficacy of the drugs, on top of evidence from animal experiments, he said. “If a Nasdaq-listed company said their drug was found to inhibit the virus in in-vitro studies, the company would be despised by the market.”

China relied heavily on traditional medicine to combat the virus earlier this year. Despite the government’s efforts to promote the use of such herbal remedies abroad, experts have warned that there is not enough evidence from clinical trials to establish their effectiveness.

Why it’s so hard for China to promote the use of traditional remedies abroad to treat Covid-19

And this is not the first time Zhong’s comments have contributed to a drug maker’s fortunes. Two Shenzhen-listed TCM companies, Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical and Tianjin Chase Sun Pharmaceutical, reaped huge profits this year, after their drugs were included in the national standard therapy for Covid-19 patients and were recommended by Zhong.

Shares of Shijiazhuang Yiling have risen 94 per cent since a March

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111 to be the Omni-channel Drug Commercialization Partner of Xiangxu Pharmaceutical for Traditional Chinese Medicine

SHANGHAI, Oct. 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — On September 24, 111, Inc. (the “Company” or “111″) and Guangzhou Xiangxue Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (“Xiangxue Pharmaceutical”) officially signed a strategic partnership agreement (the “Agreement”) to deepen collaboration to further develop the “Internet + Medicine” model for China’s traditional Chinese medicine industry.

Per the Agreement, 111 will become an omni-channel commercialization partner of Xiangxue Pharmaceutical. Through the integration of Smart Supply Chain, digital marketing, data capabilities, and cloud services, Xiangxue Pharmaceutical will be able to promote its abundant traditional Chinese medicine products into new markets through online and offline platforms, as well as expanding into existing markets.

As the pioneer in “Internet + Medicine” platform, 111 has built China’s largest digital healthcare platform that combines both online and offline channels covering 280,000 pharmacies nationwide. In the often underserved tier 3-6 cities, 111 covers over 63% of retail pharmacies. The Agreement aims to combine the strength of 111′s omni-channel drug commercialization platform and Xiangxue Pharmaceutical’s expansive portfolio of products to drive the growth of traditional Chinese medicine. Both companies are excited to embark on this symbiotic partnership that aims further strengthen 111′s capabilities of connecting pharmaceutical companies with patients in need of their medicine.

Mr. ZHU Pengcheng, Co-COO of 111, commented that he has full confidence in this mutually beneficial partnership that leverages the expertise of both companies to service and promote the traditional Chinese medicine industry by combining 111′s leading digital healthcare platform and Xiangxue Pharmaceutical’s innovative product line. The two parties will collaborate in big data application, digital marketing of traditional Chinese medicine, brand building, and patient health management to optimize operations and better serve patients’ needs.

Mr. TAN Guanghua, General Manager of the Marketing Center of Xiangxue Pharmaceutical, commented that 111, as China’s leading digital healthcare platform, has tremendous competitive advantages in its technology-enabled Smart Supply Chain, omni-channel drug commercialization capabilities, and smart technology and integrated online-offline infrastructure that leverages the latest in AI, cloud-based solutions, and big data. The Agreement combines the expertise of both companies and he has full confidence that the strategic partnership will be a success in achieving significant annual sales growth for Xiangxue Pharmaceutical.

About Xiangxue Pharmaceutical

Xiangxue Pharmaceutical is specialized in the health industry, covering fields such as traditional Chinese medicine decoction pieces, Chinese patent medicine, functional healthcare products, biomedical engineering, and life science research. It has built large GAP medicinal materials planting bases and GMP production bases, building an integrated industrial chain that includes traditional Chinese medicine resources development, new drug R&D and production, advanced manufacturing of traditional Chinese medicine, and modern logistics and distribution. The company has become a leading traditional Chinese medicine modernization company with proprietary intellectual property rights, its brands and self-dependent innovation ability.

About 111, Inc.

111, Inc. (NASDAQ: YI) (“111” or the “Company”) is a leading digital healthcare platform committed to digitally connecting patients with healthcare products and services in China. The Company provides consumers with better access to pharmaceutical products and healthcare services directly through its online retail pharmacy,

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