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New Nobel laureate to be named honorary academician

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Academia Sinica would be pleased to name U.S. biochemist Roger Y. Tsien, a winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in chemistry, as an honorary academician and invite him to visit Taiwan, the head of Taiwan’s top research institution said yesterday.

Academia Sinica President Chi-Huey Wong seconded ruling Kuomintang Legislator Liao Cheng-ching’s suggestion at a Legislative Yuan Education and Culture Committee hearing that Academia Sinica name Tsien as an honorary academician and invite him to visit Taiwan.

Tsien, a professor with the University of California, San Diego, won the Nobel Prize in chemistry with Osamu Shimomura and Martin Chalfie last week for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, which can be used as a tool to monitor the movement of cells and their affiliated proteins.

Tsien, who has lived his entire life in the United States and was born to parents from China, was previously rejected as an academician by Academia Sinica academicians. Wong said the “honorary academician” title was more suitable.

“Given that Tsien grew up in the United States, does not speak Mandarin and was not educated in Taiwan, nominating him to become an ‘honorary academician’ would be more feasible,” the Academia Sinica president said.

Wong, also a biochemist, added that he was well acquainted with Tsien and had known for sure that Tsien would some day become a Nobel laureate.

“I will meet Tsien at international workshops or symposiums this year and I’d like to extend an invitation to him then to visit Taiwan whenever it’s convenient for him, “ Wong said.

According to Academia Sinica regulations,signatures of endorsement from 10 academicians are required to enable a nominee to become an honorary academician.

The Convocation of Academia Sinica consists of more than 240 academicians,including 6 Nobel laureates.

Unlike regular academicians,honorary academicians do not necessarily perform research or attend meetings at the Academia Sinica campus.

This year, the institution selected eight people as honorary academicians, most of them Nobel laureates.

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