Bei Shizhang, renowned Chinese biophysicist and educator, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), passed away at the age of 107 on October 29 in Beijing.
Born in Zhenhai, Zhejiang province of east China on October 10, 1903, Bei Shizhang was a pioneer of Chinese cytology, embryology and founder of Chinese biophysics. He obtained his doctorate from the University of Tübingen (Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen) in Germany in 1928.
Professor Bei Shizhang became member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1955 and was the oldest academician of both the Academia Sinica and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. As the founder, the first chief director and later honorary director of the Institute of Biophysics, CAS, he was considered "Father of Chinese Biophysics".
Bei Shizhang was one of three senior scientists that formulated the plans for China's first manned spacecraft in April 1966. He opened up radiation biology and cosmobiology research in China. He led a series of such important studies as “Monitoring of natural background radiation in nuclear tests”, "Monitoring of nuclear tests’ radiation and long term effects on animals”, "Biological rockets” and so on, making an outstanding contribution to the development of China’s life sciences and manned space cause.
As founder of China’s experimental biology, Bei established in an interdisciplinary manner the Department of Biology, Zhejiang University, Institute of Biophysics, CAS, and the Department of Biophysics, University of Science and Technology of China.
During the intersex changing of Chirocephalus, Bei observed the phenomenon of cell reformation and investigated cell reformation in the early development of chick embryo, hemopoietic system of mice (bone marrow), nodule bacteria and Chlamydia trachomatis.
He proved that the existence cell reformation is an objective reality, especially in yolk granules and cytoplasm of early development of Chirocephalus and chick embryo and extracted chromatin from yolk granules.
Professor Bei carried out researches on life history, development, cell-constancy, regeneration, structure and behavior of chromosomes of nematode. Bei also studied chromatophore activity of crustacean in relation to different temperature and different concentrations of Eyestalk-extract, structural and functional changes of Corpus allatum and Corpus cardiacum of Chironomus larvae during metamorphosis, and annelid regeneration, relation between regeneration and natural fission, relation between fission and disintegration at different temperatures, etc..
The asteroid 36015 was named in the honour of Bei Shizhang on the occasion of his 100th birthday.
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