An Asteroid Named After Academician Rao Zihe


The International Astronomical Union's Committee for Small Body Nomenclature released its latest WGSBN Bulletin on October 3, which said that the asteroid 505906 was officially named Raozihe in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the research on tuberculosis pathogenic bacteria, virus pathogenic mechanism, etc. Academician Rao Zihe becomes another Nankai University scientist after whom an asteroid is named, following the world-renowned mathematician Shiing-shen Chern. 

Academician Rao Zihe is a molecular biophysics and structural biologist, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), a professor at the College of Life Sciences of Nankai University, and a member of the Presidium of the CAS Academic Divisions. He previously served as President of Nankai University, Director of the Institute of Biophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Chairman of the International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics (IUPAB). 

Rao Zihe has long been engaged in the research on the three-dimensional structure of pathogens of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and on innovative drugs. He has made systematic and innovative contributions to the mechanism research on key pathogens such as influenza virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome and novel coronavirus, HIV, hepatitis A virus, hand, foot and mouth virus, herpes virus, African swine fever virus as well as mycobacterium tuberculosis. 

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rao Zihe and his team have made systematic achievements in the research on virus target mechanisms, antiviral drugs, antibodies and vaccines, and have been actively involved in the research and development of inactivated vaccines, making key contributions to the research on novel coronavirus, pandemic prevention and control as well as the progress of human health. 

Asteroids are currently the only kind of celestial bodies that can be nominated according to the wishes of the discoverers and obtain international recognition subject to the approval of international organizations. It is a very serious, unique, and unchangeable thing and is regarded as a high international honor. Once the name is approved internationally, it will be recognized by all countries in the world and goes down in the annals of astronomy.

(Edited and translated by Nankai News Team)