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Congratulations to王倬 for Winning the 2022 17th Outstanding Alumni Award of National Taiwan University

王倬, an alumnus of our department, won the 2022 17th outstanding alumni award of National Taiwan University - academic category. The outstanding alumni selected by National Taiwan University this year are divided into five categories: humanities and arts, academics, business, social service, and comprehensive activity. A total of 10 people won this honor.


The outstanding alumni elected this year were publicly recognized at the annual school ceremony on November 15.


2022 Academic Category - Profile of Mr. 王倬 (excerpt from:第17屆傑出校友名單/2022年學術類-王倬先生/ )


王倬 graduated from the Department of Chemical Engineering of National Taiwan University in 1959. After receiving a Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry from the University of Missouri in 1964, he went to Caltech as a researcher under the supervision of Professor Norman Davidson. Two years later, he joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, and served as an assistant professor, associate professor, and professor for 11 years. In 1977, he became a professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Harvard University. From 1988, he served as a Mallinckrodt Lecturer of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He retired in 2005 having worked at Harvard for 28 years.


Alumnus 王倬 research work: When he was studying for his Ph.D. degree, his topic concerned the study of metal ions and he knew nothing about DNA. It was not until he arrived at Caltech that he entered the field of DNA research under the guidance of Professor Davidson. After he took a faculty position at the University of California in 1966, he began to study circular DNA, especially superhelical DNA, and explored the properties of DNA when its double helix structure is twisted into a superhelix in three-dimensional space.

His research in this area also led him to discover an enzyme important in many functions of DNA in cells in 1971, which was named DNA topoisomerase many years later. The existence of DNA topoisomerase solved the problem of DNA entanglement.


Professor Wang cares deeply about the education in Taiwan. During his first academic sabbatical in 1970, he served as a "National Visiting Professor" at the Department of Chemistry, National Taiwan University for one semester. He taught two courses that year, one was nucleic acid chemistry, and the other biophysics, both of which were offered for the first in Taiwan. Nucleic acid is DNA and RNA, but at that time, nucleic acid chemistry, like biophysics, was unpopular in Taiwan, and few people except for the students who took the courses were interested in those fields. Many years later, in view of the rapid development of molecular biology, Academia Sinica decided to establish a new Institute of Molecular Biology in the Nangang district of Taipei, several people who participated in the plan strongly recommended Professor 王倬 to preside over the work.


In 1986, the Molecular Biology Research Building of Academia Sinica was opened, and Professor Wang returned to Academia Sinica for one year. Professor Wang not only returned to Nangang by himself, but also persuaded five young scholars to come back and participate in this grand event. These five scholars are all talented researchers in their mid-30s who have taught in prestigious American universities after going to the United States from Taiwan. Professor Wang often said that the age of 35 to 45 is the golden decade for biologists: "Energetic, imaginative, and having many years of work experience." Of the five people who accompanied him back to Nangang that year, three returned to Taiwan long-term many years later. They were also elected as academicians of Academia Sinica.


Professor Wang was elected to Academia Sinica, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the US National Academy of Sciences in 1982, 1984, and 1986, respectively.