Noble Prize winner Richard J. Roberts visits NUST

On the morning of April 26, Professor Richard J. Roberts, Noble Prize winner in Physiology and Medicine, made a stirring speech at the Science & Technology Auditorium, Nanjing University of Science and Technology (NUST) to share his experience of scientific researches and developments.


Richard J. Roberts , born 6 September 1943, is a British biochemist and molecular biologist.Roberts got started with molecular biology during his postdoctoral work at Harvard University in 1968 and then joint Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where he made tremendous contribution to their research. He was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine with Phillip Allen Sharp for the discovery of introns ineukaryotic DNA and the mechanism of gene-splicing. Now, he is an academician of Britain’s National Academy of Sciences, a member of the Royal Society and a chief scientist of American New England Biolabs, Inc.

Roberts is good-mannered. He is firmly committed to greater scientific breakthroughs. At the same time, as an academic master,Roberts has a  deep love of China. Last December, he readily consented to the establishment of Richard Roberts Institute of Biotechnology which is named after him in Yixing, Jiangsu Province. This Institute is specialized in relevant scientific research on human antibodies.

The speech was begun with the topic” How to improve science sensitivity and discover new problems”. Roberts summarized three key factors to achieve success in science: abundant specialized knowledge, brave skepticism spirit and full enthusiasm.


Students in NUST submitted questions actively in fluent English after Roberts’ speech, such as the differences between Chinese and Britain scholars, the cause of the large-scale spread of H7N9 virus and even his view on homework for college students.

When it came to the question “Weather the 21th century become biochemistry era”, ”Biochemistry will occupy an important role in the 21th century for its particular concern for human health. ” , said Roberts, ”Nowadays, many food contain additives which will have side effects on the human bodies, or even are toxic. Biochemistry can predict the long-term harms of additives by researching. ”


As for the learning strategy,Roberts advised students to master subtraction. Namely, the mastery of rules could reduce a quantity of remembering burden. Roberts said, "You could deduce the related conclusion rather than memorizing it deliberately after mastering many main principles.”

When it referred to how to innovate, Roberts inspired the young students to be rebellious in scientific researches. He said,” You represent the future while professorsrepresent the past. Scientific researches are geared to the future, and you should be in charge of the future world.”

Following the end of the lecture,Roberts and  President WANG Xiaofeng of NUST had a close talking. President WANG extended a warm welcome to Roberts and then delivered a brief introduction of the current situation of education and scientific researches in NUST. Meanwhile, they two exchanged much experience in terms of scientific research pullulation of the youth.


The speech of Roberts is one of the series activities of celebrating the 60th anniversary of NUST. The university is on the way to integrating into the globalization of science and technology development with impressive openness and international outlook. NUST is looking forward to inviting more masters to come into the campus and, at the same time, hoping more students and faculties to reach out to the world, developing academic exchanges and cooperation in various ways and forms.

 By Zhao Yi, 28 April, 2013