Since its establishment, microbiology has been an important subject integrating scientific exploration and industrial development. It is due to this distinctive feature of the subject that use-inspired basic research falls within Pasteur’s Quadrant, not to mention the quadrant itself was named after Louis Pasteur, the great founder of microbiology.
From the beginning of the establishment of the Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Science, it has been the set policy to serve the country through industry and promise a bright future for the country with scientific research. Inspired by the vision of“Microbiology, High-tech, and Large Industry” and relying on its research divisions which span five state key laboratories, Biological Resources Center, and Technology Development and Transfer Center (TDTC), the Institute focuses on three main fields of microbial resources, microbial biotechnology, and pathogeny microbiology and immunity. The Institute has dedicated years to the committed mission for the systematic, strategic, and forward-looking microbiology research.
The end of 2018 witnessed the 60th anniversary of the Institute. When we look back, our institute has evolved into a comprehensive microbiology research institution with solid foundation, strong scientific research ability, and wild influence thanks to our continuous joint efforts.
We have made major breakthroughs in infectious disease and interspecies transmission of pathogens, interaction between microorganisms and crops, high-valued metabolites production via biological fermentation and microbial phylogeny and resources development and utilization, to name only a few.
Our results which span the innovation value chain from resource preservation, functional transformation all the way up to technological innovation and achievement transformation have made important contributions to the “Three Facings”（Facing the modernization, facing the world and facing the future）.
In recent years, we have actively undertaken national major scientific research tasks, presided over a number of projects, including the leading strategic science and technology projects of Chinese Academy of Science, the major research program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the key research and development program of the Ministry of Science and Technology. We have also pushed forward with the “Belt and Road” scientific and technology cooperation and made remarkable achievements.
China’s President XI Jinping said at the 2018 Academicians' Conference of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, “To achieve prosperity and rejuvenation, China must vigorously develop science and technology and strive to become the world leader in major science center and innovation." In the past decade, with the rapid development of basic science and the arrival of the fourth industrial revolution, we have been facing great challenges and opportunities in our research much as a ship with its sails facing the wind. The wind has blown from three directions as follows:
First, it’s from the world: mankind is faced with a series of severe challenges in health, environment, agriculture, and national security, yet the rise of genomics, synthetic biology and microbiome provides ideas and methods to solve these problems. Microbiology is not only an important source of these emerging fields, but a priority area of strategic importance for world technology superpowers.
Second, it’s from the outside: as the independent development of the national economy and the independent innovation of modern biotechnology require microorganisms to speed up the pace of progress, we need to deliver a strong performance in both technological innovation and talent cultivation. Talking without taking any action will not help us overcome the difficulties and allow us to achieve our goal.
Finally, it’s from the inside: how to establish an efficient, entrepreneurial and united modern scientific research institution system under which a good environment will be provided for excellent microbiologists under the guidance of science and technology structural reform and the "Taking the lead" plan of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has been a difficult problem we have to face. Being passive is not how we work.
Each generation has its own long march. Our persistence and wisdom over the past 60 years have not only laid a solid foundation for the sustainable development and innovation-oriented mode but set an example for the new generation to fight despite difficulties. We also have the determination, confidence, and ability to face difficulties, and we will remove all ideological and institutional barriers that hinder scientific and technological innovation.
Wind rising, getting ready and full sail!
Our career is about to set sail again!
Prof. QIAN Wei
Acting Director-General of Institute of Microbiology,
Chinese Academy of Science