Being Edinburgh
Being Edinburgh, the award.

Winner of 2020 Being Edinburgh Award

Respiratory expert and epidemiologist, Zhong Nanshan is the winner of the University’s first Being Edinburgh Award with over 90% of the student, staff and alumni vote.

Zhong Nanshan
Image credit: Liu Dawei/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

We want to thank everyone who voted and campaigned for Barbara, Nanshan and Tom; three outstanding candidates. It seems entirely fitting that a figure at the heart of global efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 is our first Being Edinburgh Award winner.

In an email to the University, Dr Zhong said it was an honour to receive the first Being Edinburgh Award. He took time to thank those who voted and to share information about his current activities, including a planned lecture series to colleagues in Europe and the US about the transmission route, infectivity, diagnosis, and management of the COVID-19 infection.

During this time of international crisis, the Being Edinburgh Award allows us to highlight positive news in our global alumni community. Dr Zhong is an inspiration to students, staff and alumni alike, and embodies important values that the University aims to uphold: drive, passion, and sustained hard work. His win is well-deserved, and we wish him the best of luck in his research on COVID-19.

Niamh Martin-McGarrigleLinguistics and French student and member of the Being Edinburgh selection committee

A community of support

The relevance of Zhong Nanshan’s achievements and his ongoing work as part of the Chinese response to COVID-19 resonated with our community, especially alumni living and working in China, and students whose families and friends were caught up in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

During the peak time of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, the nomination made many Chinese alumni immensely proud; it united and uplifted alumni and students across the world. The win will mean a great deal to our current Chinese students, alumni, and prospective students, for Dr Zhong represents not only academic and professional excellence, but also dedication and integrity, which is ever important in our collective efforts in addressing today and tomorrow’s greatest challenges.

Grace GuanGrace Guan, Regional Director, East Asia

Making a difference

As well as his current role leading the Chinese National Health Commission's expert panel investigating the COVID-19 outbreak, Dr Zhong's nomination also referenced his work in the identification of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus during the 2003 outbreak. As head of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases, Nanshan and his team offered to admit all the critical SARS cases in Guangdong province into his Institute. He drew up the procedures for the proper management and prevention of SARS that were adopted by the Chinese Ministry of Health. This pioneering work earned him the national labour medal from the government.

Being Edinburgh

We created the Being Edinburgh Award to increase knowledge and appreciation of Edinburgh’s diverse community of former students. With more than 100 people nominated and a shortlist that reached from the US to China via Norway, and that weaved together music for refugees with gang and drug prevention initiatives and guidelines for the diagnosis and management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, we gained an insight into all the ways that members of our university community are making a difference.

Being Edinburgh isn't just about a single award winner, however. We heartily congratulate Zhong Nanshan but we will also be sharing some of the other stories that you have told us about. Being Edinburgh doesn't stop. There is even more to celebrate.

News release