National Strategy and Funding
Since 2000, organ transplantation, one of the “comprehensive, leading future emerging industries” meant to drive China’s future global development, has assumed a high priority as a national strategy and has been considered a strategic industry by the government. The government has invested heavily in research, development, and personnel training in transplantation technology to meet the needs of this rapidly growing industry.
A large number of organ transplantation projects have received funding from major national programs as well as other sources from within the central government. The vast majority of medical universities and their affiliated transplant centers, military and civilian, have received significant funding from all levels of government.
The Five-Year Plan of China is a series of social and economic development initiatives that are part of China’s national plan for economic development shaped by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) through plenary sessions of the Central Committee and national congresses.
Since 2000, the government has continuously incorporated organ transplantation into its “Five-Year Plans” for multiple ministries. In 2004, organ transplantation technology was added as a major research area and key technology in the Tenth Five-Year Plan for National Health, Science and Technology Development of the People’s Republic of China. In 2008, organ transplantation was included again as a key project in the Eleventh Five-Year National Key Technology Research and Development Program. In 2011, organ transplantation was once again included in a number of special plans within in the Twelfth Five-Year National Key Technology Research and Development Program.
China’s National Program on Key Basic Research Projects, the 973 Program, is a foundational research and major development project guided by national strategic demands. It is meant to be “progressive, advanced, comprehensive” and assume a leading role in China’s development of important scientific technology.
The High Technology Research and Development Program, the 863 Program, aims to address high-tech issues of national long-term development and national security; it is meant to be “strategic, cutting-edge and forward-looking.” This project intends to develop high technology with independent intellectual property rights, to coordinate the integration and application of high technology, and lead the development of future emerging industries.
A large number of military and civilian research centers were established to overcome technological difficulties in transplantation, such as immunosuppressants and organ preservation solutions. For example, the website of Shanghai Changzheng Hospital affiliated with the Second Military Medical University claims that its organ preservation solution is being used in 98% of Chinese hospitals.1
The military, as well as central and local governments have also invested heavily in domestic medical institutions to carry out basic research and development in organ transplantation and promote its industrialization. These strategies are illustrated by the following examples:
The largest transplant center in Asia is located in Tianjin. The director of the Oriental Organ Transplant Center of Tianjin First Hospital, Shen Zhongyang, also director of the Institute of Organ Transplantation of the Chinese People’s Armed Police General Hospital, was named the “father of liver transplantation in China.” He was appointed as the chief expert of the organ transplant program under the national “863 Program” and named a subject expert in biological and medical technology under the same program.2
The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University has the largest transplant center in eastern China. In recent years, the Liver Transplant Center has completed over 40 national projects. Some of the projects have been provided with over ten million RMB in funding. It was the chief leader for two of the 973 Program scientific research projects: foundational research in the application of immunological mechanisms of chronic graft dysfunction (2003~2008) and basic research on the application of organ transplantation immunology (2009~2013).3 In addition, it took the lead in three 863 Program projects under the national Eleventh Five-Year National Key Technology Research and Development Program and two projects supported by National Natural Science Foundation. Furthermore, the center had a project funded by Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Development Team Program, and another supported by the Ministry of Health’s Professional Specialization Fund.4
The Organ Transplant Center of the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Sun Yat-sen University has engaged in more than 50 research projects, including the national 863 Program, Twelfth Five-Year National Key Technology Research and Development Program, and a National Natural Science Foundation project during three recent years.5
The academic leader of the center, He Xiaoshun, has presided over 17 research projects with total funding of more than thirteen million RMB. From 1996 to 1998, he received only 80,000 RMB from the National Natural Science Foundation despite having had worked in this field for over 10 years. In the seven years from 2001 to 2008, he received research funding of 850,000 RMB, a 10-fold increase. Since 2008, his team has obtained research project grants amounting to 12 million RMB, a 14-fold increase in 7 years, including a national 863 Program on key transplantation technology consisting of 2.88 million RMB between 2012 and 2015.6
Jiefang Daily, the official newspaper of the People’s Liberation Army, reported in 2004 that the Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Commission established a major multiple organ transplantation research project in 2002. It invested 8 million RMB in five hospitals to conduct clinical research in heart, liver, and lung transplants. These five hospitals include Zhongshan Hospital of Fudan University, Ruijin Hospital and Eastern Hepatobiliary Surgery Hospital of the Second Military Medical University, Shanghai First People’s Hospital, and Shanghai Lung Hospital. In 2003, the total number of organ transplants performed in Shanghai was more than 10 times that of 2001 and the hospitals achieved a few “national and even international firsts” in organ transplantation.7
We list here vast projects that other organ transplant centers have embarked on in recent years:
Dou Kefeng, the director of the PLA Institute of Organ Transplantation of Xijing Hospital, Affiliated to the Fourth Military Medical University, has taken the lead in the following projects: two sub-projects of national “863 Program”, one project in “Eleventh Five-Year National Key Technology Research and Development Program”, one major project and three other projects in the National Natural Science Foundation, one military clinical high-tech major project, the military “Eleventh five-Year scientific and technological research disciplines, three military “2110” projects, and a special military discipline. The total ongoing research project funds reached over 20 million RMB.8
The Institute of Organ Transplantation Research of Xi’an Jiaotong University has recently taken the lead in 46 national and key departmental projects, including those under the “973 Program,” the “Eleventh Five-Year National Key Technology Research and Development Program,” National Natural Science Foundation, and a provincial Key Discipline.9
The Organ Transplantation Research Institute of Wuhan Tongji Hospital affiliated with Huazhong University of Science and Technology has undertaken over 30 science and technology research projects in the past decade, including the National 863 Program, 973 Program, major projects funded by the National Natural Science Foundation, clinical key projects supported by the Ministry of Health, major projects under the Hubei Province Natural Science Foundation, and other research projects commissioned by the Ministry of Health. In the past five years, this institute has published 410 papers, including 78 papers listed in the Science Citation Index (SCI) and 11 books.10
In addition, other prestigious universities and affiliated hospitals, as well as almost all military and civilian medical universities and their affiliated hospitals, are rapidly developing their organ transplant research and receiving a large amount of national funding.
"Introduction to Shanghai Changzheng Hospital"
"Introduction of Shen Zhongyang. Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation Foundation."
"Introduction of Zheng Shusen. Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation Foundation."
"Liver Transplantation Innovation Team of the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University Science Technology Department of Zhejiang Province"
"The Organ Transplant Department of the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Sun Yat-sen University Source: Official web site of the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Sun Yat-sen University"
"Introduction of He Xiaoshun Source: Good Doctors Online"
"Organ Transplantation Techniques in Shanghai Have Great Value, Last Year’s Transplant Quantity Near 1,000 cases , Source: Liberation Daily Dated: February 24, 2004"
"Dou Kefeng: Open and Sincere Science and Technology Digest March 18, 2014 Hou Jie"
窦科峰：披肝沥胆献真情 《科技文摘报》 March 18, 2014 侯洁
"Introduction of Department of Kidney Transplantation, Xi’an Jiaotong University"
西安交通大学附一院 - 肾移植科科室简介