'Father of vaccines in Taiwan' Lee Chin-yun dies at 94

06/11/2021 06:25 PM
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Lee Chin-yun (sitting, center) attends the launch of his memoir in January 2020. CNA file photo
Lee Chin-yun (sitting, center) attends the launch of his memoir in January 2020. CNA file photo

Taipei, June 11 (CNA) Lee Chin-yun (李慶雲), a pediatrician and pioneer in vaccine development in Taiwan, died Friday at the age of 94, the Infectious Diseases Society of Taiwan said the same day.

The group did not reveal the doctor's cause of death, but Lee's health had reportedly declined in recent years following a stroke.

Lee graduated from National Taiwan University in 1953 and served as a pediatrician at National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) for more than four decades.

He also devoted himself to virus research, serving as a researcher at the U.S.' Naval Medical Research Unit Two (NAMRU-2), a biomedical research laboratory that had a presence in Taiwan from the 1950s-1970s.

It was while working with the NAMRU-2 that Lee developed his first vaccine candidate for measles infection.

In 1962, Lee went to the U.S. to study Japanese encephalitis (JE), which resulted in his developing another vaccine candidate to address the disease.

To prove the efficacy of the vaccines, Lee administered both his measles and JE vaccines to his two daughters and one son, respectively, during clinical trials, according to Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Despite having confidence in his work, Lee was unable to continue his research on the two vaccines due to a lack of funding, the CDC said.

All of his children remained healthy, with two of them following in their father's footsteps to become doctors, the CDC added.

Nevertheless, Lee's contributions to vaccine development earned him considerable respect in the medical community, which described him as "the father of vaccines in Taiwan."

Upon learning of Lee's death, some of Lee's students paid their tribute to the late doctor, including Lu Chun-yi (呂俊毅), NTUH pediatrician and author of Lee's oral biography.

"He is our spiritual leader," said Lu on Friday, referring to the late doctor as a well-respected mentor among his students.

They include CDC Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) advisors Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) and Lee Ping-ing (李秉穎), all of whom shared their interactions with Lee at the launch event of Lee's oral biography last year, Lu recalled.

Meanwhile, pediatrician Chan Chien-chun (詹前俊) said he was shocked by the news, but added he was grateful for Lee's guidance.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan and Teng Pei-ju)

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