On the morning of May 11, 2017, staff and students of the university were given a special treat: the visit by two towering figures in the arena of science. The first is Yu Mengsun, a distinguished member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, who also wears another hat as the Director of Aviation Medicine Engineering Research Center of the Air Force Aviation Medical Research Institute. The other is Prof Jiang Zonglai, Honorary Director of the Institute of Mechanical Biology at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. These two world-leading scientists came to our department to mentor our students, sharing their experience of undergraduate education and scientific research. They gave our students a pep talk on how to improve their academic skills for professional development and advised them to be mindful of serving the needs of the state and society. The two distinguished scientists also held talks with faculty members, including Academician Xu Zhenghe, Dean of the Engineering Institute.
The Forum in Progress
The Meeting of Minds--with Academician Xu Zhenghe
The highlight of the visit was a speech by each of the two distinguished visitors. Academician Yu Mengsun gave an eye-opening speech on “The Problems of Human Health Engineering” while Prof Jiang Zonglai delivered a spell-binding talk on “the Progress from Biomechanics to Mechanical Biology”. The speeches were moderated by Prof X. Edward Guo, founding Dean of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at our University.
A near capacity audience for a great forum
The special significance of Academician Yu’s visit was underscored by the fact that he is a revered as a pioneer and leading expert in aviation biomedical engineering in particular and biomedical engineering in general in China. If there are national heroes in science in our country, he is surely one of them. In the early 1960’s, he was the first to develop the “aviation bio telemetry device” and “physiological electrographic recording device” in China which was applied successfully to remote-monitor 12 kinds of physiological and physical information of the pilot, from acceleration, electrocardiogram to electroencephalogram at a 12,000-meter altitude, and within a 300-kilmoeter flight radius. This enabled China to become only the third country after the United States and the former Soviet Union with aviation medical telemetry technology. More good things were to follow. By the 1990’s, he made another significant contribution, discovering electrodeless current detection technology. It comes as no surprise that he leads China’s charge in this field, currently holding the position of Director of Aviation Medicine Engineering Research Center of the Air Force Aviation Medical Research Institute. He is also the Honorary Chairman of the China Biomedical Engineering Society.
Prof Jiang Zonglai is no less an illustrious member of the scientific community. He is former Chairman and Member of the National Biomechanics Specialization Committee. He has been honored as Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (or AIMBE Fellow). He is a scientific heavyweight, having been showered with multiple honors, holding a long list of prestigious positions, such as the Honorary Director of the Institute of Mechanical Biology at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Director of the World Council of Biomechanics (WCB),and Honorary Vice President of the China Biomedical Engineering Society. He is equally in demand in scientific writing as the Subeditor of the Chinese Journal of biomedical Engineering and Executive Subeditor of the Journal of Medical Biomechanics. Here is a man with a life-long devotion to the research on vascular morphology, biomechanics and mechanical biology, stretching over a span of nearly 40 years.
Making a point—Academician Yu holding court
In his speech, Academician Yu first explained what human health medical engineering is all about. He believes that a wholesome person should be a system of harmony between man and nature, or the unity of mind and body. The external world environment or the human physical system is known as Yang (one of the antitheses of Chinese philosophy and medicine), but it needs to be in harmony with Yin, the mental system. Human beings are a huge, complex system, with advanced mental activities. They need to receive all kinds of external information and chain-react to such information. He then pointed out that the physical states can be divided into static state and transient state, leading to the key concept of the transition state. He then delved into Tsien Hsueshen’s concept of the dynamics of the functional state. From there, he introduced five types of transition states: consciousness (or relaxation), smooth transition state (or healthy lifestyle), the physiological stress of the transition state (medical care, exercise and physiological responses), overloading the stress transition state (excessive stimulation, acute diseases and therapeutic errors), and crisis transition state (beyond the capability of the organism). Finally, he explained the so-called specific model or the SIR model, with people’s health as its core. This is a new type of health industry that is now growing rapidly in China. At the meeting, Yu was at great pains to drum the idea of a healthy lifestyle, including sound sleep habits, into the students. Now past 80 years of age, Prof Yu charmed the young audience with his vitality and humor, with much lively exchanges and hearty laugher. It was an experience to remember.
Prof Jiang Zonglai in mid-speech
Then it was Prof Jiang Zonglai’s turn to take to the stage. He gave the audience an overview of modern biomechanics and made reference to the contributions of Fend Yuanzheng. Jiang walked the attendees through the progress from biomechanics to mechanical biology, and the current development and breakthroughs of biomechanics in China. He also introduced his own specialty of vascular mechanical biology. Looking ahead, he saw nothing but rosy prospects in the development of biomechanics in our country.
After the speechmaking, both speakers signed the Book of Messages for the SUST Lecture Hall. Yu penned a bold prediction that this University “ is bound to make outstanding contributions to the study of human health”. Jiang for his part, wrote to urge the University to “develop biomechanics for the benefit of human health” wishing the University success in making magnificent progress in this endeavor.
Prof X. Edward Guo is awarding Academician Yu Mengsun lecture certificate of Southern University of Science and Technology
Prof X. Edward Guo is awarding Professor Jiang Zonglai lecture certificate of Southern University of Science and Technology