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Minor planet named after BSC honorary president Rao Zihe

Updated: 2022-10-19

The minor planet No 505906 has been named after Rao Zihe, a Chinese biologist and honorary president of the Biophysical Society of China (BSC), said the Working Group of Small Bodies Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union on Oct 3.

The naming was to commend Rao's outstanding contributions to understanding mycobacterium tuberculosis and pathogenic viruses. 


The cover of the WGSBN Bulletin published on Oct 3. [Photo/WeChat account: BSC]


A screenshot of the WGSBN Bulletin published on Oct 3 shows that minor planet No 505906 is named after Rao Zihe. [Photo/WeChat account: BSC]

Minor planets are the only celestial bodies that can be nominated based on the wishes of the discoverers and approved by international organizations to be globally recognized. The seriousness, uniqueness and permanent immutability of naming make it a lofty international honor.


Rao Zihe [Photo/WeChat account: BSC]

Rao is a molecular biophysics and structural biologist, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the World Academy of Sciences, as well as a professor at the School of Medicine of Tsinghua University.

He has long been engaged in studying the basis for pathogenicity of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and innovative drugs. He is currently a member of the CAS Presidium of the Academic Divisions, a member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and the founding chairman of the China Union of Life Sciences Societies at the China Association for Science and Technology.

Rao is a former president of Nankai University, a director of the CAS Institute of Biophysics and chairman of the International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics.

During the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rao's team contributed to virus research and pandemic prevention and control by studying virus target mechanisms, antiviral drugs and antibodies and vaccines, and participated in the research and development of Sinopharm and Sinovac’s inactivated vaccines.