Shen Zhongli (1912-)
Specializing in internal medicine and gynaecology (women’s health), Shen began to pursue his career in Traditional Chinese Medicine at the age of 15. At that time many TCM doctors learned about TCM from their fathers or grandfathers, who cured patients with magical effectiveness due to secret prescription passed down through the family and through folk traditions, without scientific explanation. Shen mastered this knowledge systematically at a TCM medicine school that had been founded by Ding Ganren, a TCM doctor of great renown in China. Born in January of 1912, Shen entered a private school at the age of five. His father died of an epidemic disease when he was only 15. In the same year, the Shanghai Special Medicine School of TCM enrolled him after he passed their qualification examination. Believing « God helps those who work hard », Shen devoted himself to medical study. He studied 12 hours a day without any holidays and spent all his savings on ancient Chinese medicine books. Besides studying TCM works, he also read Western medical texts. He maintained that each medical system has its particular strengths and weaknesses, so that a good doctor should draw from both. Shen is open-minded and always ready to learn from Western medicine to offset deficiencies in Traditional Chinese Medicine, according to his students. In the 1940s, he worked in the emergency room of a charity hospital. Most of the moribund patients recovered due to his treatment, earning him the title « the good doctor » among those he had helped. He served as a gynaecologist after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, when doctors treating women’s diseases were badly needed. Shen joined the Shanghai College of TCM in 1956, where he has been teaching and working ever since. Shen contracted stomach cancer 20 years ago because he always delayed his lunch when there were too many patients awaiting his attention. Thanks to its lower risk compared with Western medicine and its natural character, TCM is enjoying a boom in popularity both at home and aboard. Since senior TCM doctors with both advanced techniques and lofty work ethics are scarce, patients often have to wait a long time for treatment. Sometimes they even have to begin queuing before daybreak to register. As a reserved person, Shen likes reading books and practising calligraphy in his free time. « Calligraphy keeps me calm and make my handwriting beautiful and clear, » said Shen, « My students can learn more easily when I write clearly on the blackboard or on prescription notes. » The books he loves most are works on biography and history. Stories about Nobel Prize winners for science are his favourite. In his 60s, he started a course called Individual Theory from Different Schools of TCM at Shanghai TCM college. His lectures, full of interesting anecdotes, won popularity among his students. In his 80s, he wrote a book about his teacher’s teacher, Ding Ganren. He regards his biggest achievement as the success of Gongliu Ningpian, a type of pill made from medicinal herbs that treats cancer of the uterus. He and his colleges devoted more than a decade to the research and development of this medicine. (source : Shanghai Star).