Mr. Chen Chien-jen was born in Cishan Township, Kaohsiung County (now merged into Kaohsiung City) in 1951. A veteran epidemiologist, he has made significant contributions to public health and infectious disease control as well as science and technology development in Taiwan. He is widely recognized for his crisis management skills and leadership abilities, as well as his open-mindedness and passion for communication.
Mr. Chen received his Bachelor Degree in Zoology (1973) and Master Degree in Public Health (1977) from National Taiwan University. In 1982, he received his Doctor of Science Degree in epidemiology and human genetics from Johns Hopkins University. His areas of expertise include epidemiology, human genetics, public health, and preventive medicine.
Mr. Chen then returned to Taiwan to serve in the following positions: associate professor (1983-1986) and professor (1986-2015) in National Taiwan University; director of the Graduate Institute of Public Health (1993-1994), founding director of the Graduate Institute of Epidemiology (1994-1997), and dean of the College of Public Health of National Taiwan University (1999-2002); Distinguished Research Fellow of the Genomics Research Center (2006-2015) and Vice President of Academia Sinica (2011-2015).
Mr. Chen’s research on blackfoot disease, chronic arsenic poisoning, viral hepatitis and liver cancer, and oncogenic viruses has made a tremendous contribution to human health promotion and disease prevention. He was awarded the Academic Award (1997) and National Chair Professor (1997-2002) of the Ministry of Education. He was also elected Academician of Academia Sinica (1998), and awarded the Presidential Science Prize of Taiwan (2005) and the Executive Yuan’s Outstanding Contribution in Science and Technology Award (2013). He has also been honored as a member of the World Academy of Sciences (2005) and a Cutter Lecturer on Preventive Medicine of Harvard University (2008), and received the Knowledge for the World Award from Johns Hopkins University (2012) along with many other prestigious international awards.
Mr. Chen served as Director General of the Division of Life Sciences at the National Science Council (1997-1999), and later as the Council’s Deputy Minister (2002-2003), promoting numerous national programs and cutting-edge research. During Taiwan’s SARS outbreak in 2003, he was appointed Minister of Health, and successfully controlled the crisis in a short period. To enhance Taiwan’s capabilities in public health and infectious disease control, Mr. Chen also actively promoted the organizational reengineering of the Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control; establishment of a national healthcare system for infectious diseases; amendments to the Communicable Disease Control Act; and fundamental reforms to the health insurance system.
After being appointed as Minister of the National Science Council in 2006, Mr. Chen reformed the Council to strengthen science and technology administration, promote Taiwan’s knowledge-based economy, and broaden international cooperation. He has been awarded the Executive Yuan’s Achievement Medal (First Rank) in 2005; the Department of Health’s Health Medal (First Rank) in 2005; the Officier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques from the Ministry of Education of France in 2009; and the Science Profession Medal (First Prize) from the National Science Council in 2012.
In 2011, Mr. Chen was appointed Vice President of Academia Sinica. During his tenure, he promoted the establishment of the Academia Sinica Research Fund, build up Taiwan Biobank, established the National Biotechnology Research Park at Nangang, and undertook the planning of Academia Sinica’s southern branch. For his efforts, he was awarded the Special Service Medal of Academia Sinica (2016).
Mr. Chen is a devout Catholic, embracing the spirit of humble service and dedicated to putting the Christian doctrine of “loving God and your neighbor” into practice. The Vatican has invited Mr. Chen and his wife Ms. Lo Fong-ping to visit several times, where they have been received by Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis. He has been invested as a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (2010) and a Knight of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great (2013).