Google Doodle honours the work and accomplishments of Malaysian epidemiologist Dr Wu Lien-teh today on the occasion of his 142nd birthday. Born in 1879 in Penang, Wu is best known for helping to eradicate the highly contagious pneumonic plague that broke out in Harbin, China (1910-1911), pioneering several methods that today are still being practised to fight a pandemic. They include setting up quarantine stations, progressive sterilisation, restricting travel and, most notably, developing a face mask in cotton and gauze to filter the air that people inhaled. This mask is credited as the precursor of N95 masks we have become familiar with. His remedies were so effective that the plague ended four months after he came on the job.
Here are five other interesting facts about Dr Wu that you may not be aware of:
- He attended Penang Free School.
- He attended Emmanuel College in Cambridge on a Queen's Scholarship. He was the first Cambridge student of Chinese descent.
- He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1935, the first Malaysian to achieve this feat.
- There are two streets in Malaysia named after him—one in Ipoh, and another in George Town, Penang near his alma mater.
- For his work on the plague, he has been called the 'Father of Modern Medicine' in China.