These are some of the teachers and scholar-physicians from the past that have most decisively shaped my style of clinical practice.
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Professor Shi was born on 18 June 1942 in Shandong. Following graduation from the Nanjing College of Chinese Medicine in 1965, Professor Shi worked as a physician in Nantong, where he studied with Zhu Liangchun 朱良春, one of the most famous and influential Chinese medicine physicians in contemporary China. After the turmoils of the Cultural Revolution came to an end, Professor Shi became the first master degree student focusing on integrated Chinese and Western medicine in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders and between 1983 and 1984 worked and studied at Chiba Medical University in Japan. On his return to China he took up a position as senior consultant at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing, where he later became Head of the Chinese Medicine Department for Internal Medicine. Professor Shi is one of China's most senior Chinese medicine physicians in the treatment of cardiovascular disease and has received numerous national prizes and awards in recognition of his achievements. He also is an expert in the treatment of Meniere's disease, and was commended for his role in fighting the SARS epidemic in 2003
I first studied with Professor Shi during a year's internship at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing in 1994, and from then on during many return visits to Beijing. More than anyone else, he taught me how to cross the divide between Chinese and Western medicine with ease, and that helping patients is more important than practicing a specific form of medicine. Professor Shi was the first to teach me the famous adage "follow the ancients but do not get stuck in the old," which has guided my study of East Asian medicine ever since.
Professor Shen Zhongli was born on 28 January 1912 and by the time I was introduced to him in 1999 he had already practiced Chinese medicine for almost 60 years. For me this was a rare opportunity to study with one of China's most experienced - and by then oldest - practitioners of Chinese medicine. Still seeing over 30 women each morning at the age of 87 Prof. Shen epitomised the physician whose life is entirely dedicated to the care of his patients. He also generously shared with me what he had learned in his long life of medical practice: his skills as a gynaecologist as much as his way of combining ancient knowledge with new developments in the field of pharmacology and diagnostics.
Prof. Shen graduated from the Shanghai College of Chinese Medicine in 1931, where he later also taught. The College, founded in 1916 by the famous physician Ding Ganren, was the pre-eminent Chinese medicine school at the time and Prof. Shen became apprentice to its director Ding Jiwan. From 1956 to 1986 Prof. Shen taught at what is today the Shanghai University of Chinese Medicine and practiced at its associated teaching hospital, the Shuguang Hospital of Chinese Medicine. He specialised in gynaecology and gradually became one of contemporary China's most respected practitioners in this field. He received several official commendations for his success in the treatment of uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts and in 1995 he was awarded the title "famous venerated physician of Chinese medicine" by the Chinese Department of Health.
Anyone who has ever met Professor Wu Boping is in equal measures seduced by his charm and warmth, inspired by his youthful curiosity and open-mindedness, and left to admire the fusion of elegance and pragmatism in his therapeutic approach. I first met Prof. Wu in Beijing in 1994. Since then, he has opened for me innumerable doors that have helped me to understand how Chinese medicine works. He introduced me to Ye Tianshi and the treatment of warm pathogen disorders, to Ding Ganren and Menghe medicine, and to the strategy of using simple herbs to achieve outstanding results. He taught me how to treat skin diseases, and that focusing on what can be done is more important than anything else. Besides all that he also has had a major influence on my academic work and career.
Prof. Wu was born in Shanghai in 1935, where he learned English even as a child. He graduated in 1962 from the first class at the newly established Beijing College of Chinese Medicine studying with renowned teachers like Qin Bowei, Ren Yinqiu, Zhao Bingnan and Zhu Yan. He occupied leading positions at the Zhejiang College of Chinese Medicine in Hangzhou and the Academy of Chinese Medicine in Beijing but also travelled far and wide. During the Cultural Revolution he worked in Xinjiang and Tibet, in the 1980s in Tanzania, and during the 1990s in the United States. Since then he has been a visiting lecturer at various institutions in Europe and the US, introducing numerous western students to a Chinese medicine not accessible in contemporary textbooks. He currently works in Hangzhou, where he continues to teach students who travel to study with him from all around the world.
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