Professor Sung Juei-Low is the predecessor of hepatitis B prevention in the country. After the “Australian Antigen” was discovered and the mystery of hepatitis B was unveiled, he discovered that as many as 3 million people in Taiwan are carriers of hepatitis B, and he worked with students Liao Yun-Fan, Chen Ding-Shinn, and others to prove that hepatitis B virus is the main culprit of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. He also defined the body fluid transmission route of hepatitis B, confirming that Taiwanese hepatitis B patients are mostly infected through vertical transmission.
Under the joint efforts of Sung Juei-Lo, Luo Kuang-Rui, Chen Ding-Shinn and others, in 1986, Taiwan fully injected all newborns with the hepatitis B vaccine to block vertical transmission, making Taiwan a pioneer in global hepatitis research and epidemic prevention.
Professor Sung Juei-Low’s achievements in gastroenterology and liver medicine research and teaching have made a significant contribution to the improvement of Taiwan’s research standards. He was awarded the first (2001) Presidential Science Award – Life Science Group.
Dr. Luo Kuang-Rui led the Taipei Veterans General Hospital team to redesign a set of studies that is based on Dr. Beasley’s research, combining passive immunoglobulin immunity with the hepatitis vaccine active immunity. At the time, in order to quell any doubt in the public, Luo Kuang-Rui took the vaccine first before trials had begun and even administered the vaccine to his children and team. He portrayed his confidence through his actions. The relevant results also became an important decision-making basis for the “Hepatitis Prevention Committee” of the Department of Health at that time.
Liaw Yun-Fan was once under the tutelage of Prof. Song Juei-Low. In the past, he taught at National Taiwan University and Taipei Veterans General Hospital before transferring to Chang Gung Hospital in 1976. With a microscope, camera equipment, and a -80 degree Celsius freezer for storing blood serum, he has so far preserved as many as 1 million serums from confirmed patients since 1977, thus establishing the importance of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital as a center of liver research in the country.
Liaw became famous internationally for his work on “Chronic Lobular Hepatitis.” During the process, he and his student Chu Chia-Ming and British experts defined three new chronic hepatitis B terms-“Immune Tolerance Period,” “Immune Clearance Period,” and “Original Residual Zone.” His creation of these medical terms is engraved in the history of medicine, and affirmed his decades of efforts and dedication in the field of chronic hepatitis.
Chen Ding-Shinn has been conducting liver disease research for many years and is known as the “Taiwan Liver King.”
In the early years, he followed Prof. Song Juei-Low in conducting research and confirmed that the major culprit of liver disease in Taiwan is the hepatitis B virus. They also discovered that the spread of hepatitis B vaccine was mainly through the vertical transmission between mother and child. In order to promote the hepatitis B vaccine, Chen went on radio and TV talk shows to share his knowledge.
In the 1990s, after discussions with Prof. Lai Ming-Yang, a member of the research team, he pioneered the “chronic hepatitis C combined therapy” that can eradicate hepatitis C curing many patients of the disease, and was popular for 20 years. It wasn’t until 2016 after a new oral drug, DAA, became mainstream did the therapy be replaced.
For his outstanding research results in liver disease, Chen Ding-Shinn was awarded the Presidential Science Award in 2007. In 2018, President Tsai conferred him the Order of Brilliant Star, Second Rank in recognition of his dedication to research and fight against hepatitis, and assistance to the government in promoting hepatitis B.
Chen Pei-Jer specializes in hepatitis research, especially in hepatitis D research and clarifying the carcinogenic mechanism of hepatitis B. Chen also played an important role in the history of hepatitis C prevention and treatment in Taiwan. In the early days, hepatitis C was often spread through blood transfusion, and the blood donation center simply couldn’t afford the test kits produced by Medfocus Diagnostics Co. at that time. Chen Pei-Jer chose to transfer the hepatitis C virus RNA and give the gene fragment technology to the government. Taiwan was thus able to produce low-cost hepatitis C antibody testing reagents.
Wu Jaw-Ching is currently a professor at the Institute of Clinical Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, and is an attending physician at the Department of Medical Research at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. His main fields of research include viral hepatitis and liver cancer research, with emphasis on hepatitis D virus. Wu was the first in the world to discover and isolate hepatitis D virus Type 4, which proved the existence of mixed infection of hepatitis D virus genotypes, and the phenomenon of gene recombination, and even published a hepatitis D virus genetic vaccines in advance.
Liu Chun-Jen is currently the Director of the National Taiwan University Hospital Hepatitis Research Center. Using an animal model of groundhogs, he studied the pathogenic mechanism of hepatitis B and the correlation of various hepatitis B virus factors with clinical courses and responses to antiviral drug treatment. He continued to experiment with a variety of clinical drug trials for chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and for his efforts in combating chronic hepatitis B and C, won the eighth Y.Z. Hsu Science Award.
Kao Jia-Horng is the current vice-superintendent of the National Taiwan University Hospital. Through the long-term follow-up and the establishment of a drug treatment database of hepatitis B patients, he explored the significance of hepatitis B virus genotypes in the natural course and drug treatment from all levels as well as the core of common virus mutant strains, core promoter mutations, and pre-S deletion mutations in the development of hepatitis B. Kao also looked into the evolution of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer before and after drug treatment and its influence on drug treatment response. He won the seventh and tenth Y.Z. Hsu Science Award.
Sheu Jin-Chuan, otherwise fondly known as “Dr. Liver,” first used ultrasound in 1978 for early discovery research on liver cancer. Not only was he a pioneer of liver research in the country, but he was also a globally renowned expert. In 1994, he established the Liver Disease Prevention & Treatment Research Foundation to promote liver disease prevention and research. Sheu Jin-Chuan made it his mission to eliminate liver disease in the country.