Dr. Wu Lien-Teh (伍连德, Wu Liande, Gnoh Lean Tuck, Ng Leen-tuck, 10 March 1879 – 21 January 1960) was a Malayan-born Chinese and the first medical student of Chinese descent to study at University of Cambridge. He was also the first Malaysian Chinese nominated to receive a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1935.

He was born in Penang, one of the three towns of the Straits Settlements (the others being Malacca and Singapore). The Straits Settlements formed part of the colonies of Great Britain. His father was a new immigrant from Taishan, China. His mother’s family also originated from China but she was a second generation resident of Malaya. Dr. Wu had four brothers and six sisters. His early education was at the Penang Free School.

He was admitted to Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1896,[2] after winning the Queen’s Scholarship held in Singapore. He had a successful career at university, and won virtually all the available prizes and scholarships. His undergraduate clinical years were spent at St Mary’s Hospital, London.

In 1903, Dr. Wu returned to the Straits Settlement after finishing his medical studies. However, there was no specialist post for him. This is because, at that time, there was a two-tier medical system in the British colonies, where only British nationals could hold the highest position of fully qualified medical officers or specialists. So, Dr. Wu spent the first 4 years of his medical career researching beri-beri and then, he was in private practice.

He was very vocal in the social issues of the time, and founded the Anti-Opium Association in Penang. This attracted the attention of the powerful forces involved in the lucrative trade of opium. This led to a search and subsequent discovery of a mere one ounce of tincture of opium in Dr. Wu’s dispensary, which was considered illegal, although he was a fully qualified medical doctor who had purchased this to treat opium patients. His prosecution and appeal rejection attracted worldwide publicity, including an invitation from the then Grand Councillor Yuan Shikai of the Chinese Government in Peking to take the post of Vice-Director of the Imperial Army medical College in Tientsin (Tianjin).

In the winter of 1910, Dr. Wu Lien-Teh was given instructions from the Foreign Office, Peking, to travel to Harbin to investigate an unknown disease which killed 99.9% of its victims. This turned out to be the beginning of the large pneumonic pandemic of Manchuria and Mongolia which ultimately claimed 60,000 victims. Dr. Wu would be remembered for his role in asking for imperial sanction to cremate plague victims, as cremation of these infected victims turned out to be the turning point of the epidemic. The suppression of this plague pandemic changed medical progress in China.

Dr. Wu chaired the International Plague Conference in Mukden (Shenyang) in April 1911, a historic event attended by scientists from the United States of America, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Netherlands, Russia, Mexico and China. He later presented a plague research paper at the International Congress of Medicine, London in August 1911 which was published in The Lancet in the same month. Dr. Wu was the first president of the China Medical Association (1916–1920) and directed the National Quarantine Service (1931–1937).

In 1937, with the Japanese occupation of much of China and the retreat of the Nationalists, Dr. Wu moved back to Malaya where he worked as a General Practitioner in Ipoh. To encourage the young to share his love for reading, Dr. Wu tirelessly collected donations to start the Perak Library (now The Tun Razak Library) in Ipoh, a free lending public library. In his own medical practice at 12 Brewster Road (now Jalan Sultan Idris Shah), long queues were a common sight, and he was known as the doctor who gave free consultation and treatment to the poor. He practised medicine until the age of 80, when he bought a new house in Penang for his retirement. He died on 21 January 1960, aged 81.

A road named after Dr. Wu can be found in Ipoh Garden South, a middle-class residential area in Ipoh located between Hock Lee Park and Ipoh Garden East. In Penang, a private road named Taman Wu Lien- teh is located near the Penang Free School.

Dr. Wu Lien-Teh is regarded as the first person to modernize China’s medical services and medical education. In Harbin Medical University, bronze statues of Dr. Wu Lien-Teh are built to remember his contributions in promoting public health, preventive medicine and medical education.[3] In Malaysia, a quiet place opposite of Penang Free School was named after him as Taman Wu Lien Teh.

more articles on Dr. Wu Lien-teh:




1879310 出生于槟城。

1896―1899 留学英国剑桥大学。

1902―1903 在英国利物浦热带病学院、德国及法国实习、研究。后返回马来亚,在吉隆坡从事热带病研究。

1904 在槟城开设私人诊所。

1907 应邀赴英国伦敦参加由神学博士文英兰主持的禁鸦片烟会议。后接受清政府邀到中国任教,担任天津陆军军医学堂副监督(副校长职)。

191012 清政府任命伍连德为东三省防鼠疫全权总医官,到哈尔滨调查、防治。

1918 任北洋政府中央防疫处处长、北京中央医院(今位于白塔寺的北京医科大学人民医院分院)院长。

19191 代表外交部到上海监督焚烧鸦片。哈尔滨流行霍乱,伍连德利用防疫医院治了2000余名病人。

1923―1924 获美国约翰‧霍普金斯大学公共卫生硕士学位、上海圣约翰大学名誉科学博士学位、日本东京帝国大学名誉医学博士学位、苏联科学院名誉院士及苏联微生物学会外国会员。

1926 创办哈尔滨医学专门学校(哈尔滨医科大学前身),任第一任校长。

19374 任中华医学会公共卫生学会会长。八一三事变,举家重返马来西亚,定居怡保市,开设私人诊所。

1960121 病逝于槟城。

介绍伍连德博士的其他文献:追忆伍连德 (上篇):鼠疫斗士誉满全球

追忆伍连德 (下篇):坚决的反毒先锋


  1. ^ Wu, Lien-Teh. “The Nomination Database for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1901-1953”.
  2. ^ Venn, J.; Venn, J. A., eds. (1922–1958). “Tuck, Gnoh Lean (Wu Lien-Teh)“. Alumni Cantabrigienses (10 vols) (online ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  3. ^ Article in Chinese. “130th memorial of Dr. Wu Lien-teh”.
  4. ^ Article in Chinese. “Picture of “Taman Wu Lien Teh””.
  • Wu Lien-Teh, 1959. Plague Fighter: The Autobiography of a Modern Chinese Physician. Cambridge.
  • Yang, S. 1988. Dr Wu Lien-Teh and the national maritime quarantine service of China in 1930s. Zhonghua Yi Shi Za Zhi 18:29-32.
  • Wu Yu-Lin. 1995. Memories of Dr Wu Lien-Teh: Plague Fighter. World Scientific Pub Co Inc.
  • Flohr, Carsten. 1996. The plague fighter: Wu Lien-Teh and the beginning of the Chinese public health system. Annals of Science 53:361-80
  • Gamsa, Mark. 2006. The Epidemic of Pneumonic Plague in Manchuria 1910–1911. Past & Present 190:147-183
  • Lewis H. Mates, ‘Lien-Teh, Wu’, in Douglas Davies with Lewis H. Mates (eds), Encyclopedia of Cremation (Ashgate, 2005): 300-301. [1]
  • Penang Free School archive [2]



介绍伍连德在中国东北英勇扑灭鼠疫的中国中央电视台CCTV连续剧 《浴火危城/大瘟疫1910》











The Plague Fighter – A Brief Retrospect

By Khoo Soo Hay

One hundred and thirty-five years ago on 10th of March 1879, there was born

The eighth son of a Sinning couple by the name of Ng Khee Hock and Lam Choy Fun,

Who named their fourth son Ng Leen Tuck, meaning in Chinese, “Five United Virtues”.

Or in Mandarin, ‘Wu Lien-Teh’, but in Penang Free School registered

As ‘Gnoh Lean Teik’ by the Hokkien School Clerk, Mr Kam Im-Keat,

And when in Emmanuel College, Cambridge, he ended up as Gnoh Lean Tuck.

Whether it was Ng, Gnoh, Wu, Teik, or Tuck, he was an Old Free,

Penang born in China Street, brought out into the world by a Malay bidan,

And like his ten siblings all breast fed by their mother, no condensed milk then.


In 1886 he entered Penang Free School at the age of seven.

In 1893 through to 1896 under Head Master Mr William Hargreaves,

Gnoh Lean Tuck’s academic achievements won him the Queen Scholarship

And he applied to and was admitted to Emmanuel College, Cambridge

Under the advice of Mr R.J. Wilkinson, then First Magistrate of Penang.

 Gnoh Lean Tuck embarked on 7th August on the P. & O. boat “Pekin”,

And at Colombo on the 11th, changed to the larger vessel, “Ballarat”.

Before reaching Gibraltar, he decided to rid himself of his queue,

Hallmark of the Chinese world-wide, but in reality

The very symbol of Chinese servitude to the Manchu Emperor.

Remember this was before China became a Republic.


Emmanuel College, founded in 1584 by Sir Walter Midway

Produced John Harvard, (1607 – 1638) who emigrated to America,

Prospered and founded Harvard University in Cambridge,

Near Boston, Massachusetts in 1636 with a gift of 780 Pounds

And two hundred and sixty books, which in its 378 years

Has been in the forefront of seeking knowledge

And producing Nobel Prize winners.


Wu Lien-Teh spent five and a quarter years in Cambridge

From 1897 to 1902 when he qualified as M.D. well before his time

At the age of twenty-four, and had to wait for another 2 years or more

Before officially being awarded the coveted Degree.

While at Emmanuel he had won 2 Awards, that of Exhibitioner in Natural Sciences

And also made a Foundation Scholar, both of which carried some financial reward.

From Emmanuel he spent his University Scholarship at St. Mary’s Hospital

At which he was the first Chinese student ever admitted.

While at St.Mary’s he won four prizes, The Special Prize in Clinical Surgery,

And in Medicine, the Kerslake Scholarship in Pathology, all in 1901

Followed by the Cheadle Gold Medal for Clinical Medicine in 1902.

He reported that it was at St. Mary’s Hospital that Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin.


He spent six months as House Physician at Brompton Hospital

For Consumption Disease of the Chest in South West London,

Before accepting the Emmanuel College post graduate Research Studentship

Which he elected to do at the Institute of Medical Research in Malaya.

Prior to returning to Malaya, he spent eight months in 1903

At the Halle-an-der-Salle institute under Prof. Karl Frankel,

And at the Pasteur Institute in Paris under Prof Metchnikoff,

Both of which were well known for their research into bacteriology.


(The Plague Fighter – A Brief Retrospect)



Wu Lien-Teh arrived back in Singapore by ship at the end of September 1903

And was met by Dr Lim Boon-Keng, the first Queen’s Scholar,

Whose sister-in-law, Ruth Huang became his fiancé,

Their marriage was solemnized at the American Methodist Church

In Singapore in July 1905 two years later.

According to Wu Lien-Teh, he was fortunate that he was not required

To convert to Christianity and continued to be a filial son,

Sticking to his Taoist and Confucian family roots.

As for his first family history, it was tragic in a sence, in that

Ruth died quite young in 1937, at 53 years of age.

And his three sons also died prematurely.

The eldest, named Davenport, Chang-Keng, born in 1906 at Love Lane, Penang

Survived long enough to obtain his tertiary education and M.D. in the States

And London, and worked for the Peking Municipality.

However he died, age thirty-six, of tubercular infection in November 1942 in Peking

His second son, Tommy, Chang-Fu, born in Tientsin, China,

Died of pneumonia complication in 1925 at the age of sixteen.

The third son, Willy, Chang-Ming, born in 1911 died six months after birth

Due to bacillary dysentery in Yamei Kin’s Hospital,Tientsin.


Wu Lien-Teh’s second family began with his marriage to Marie, Shu Chiung,

Who was born in Kirin, Manchuria, of Cantonese parentage.

From her he had three daughters and two sons, all of which survived him.

The eldest was Betty, Yu Lin, followed by Ellen, Yu Chen, Fred, Chang-Sheng,

John, Chang-Yu, all of which were born in China,

And the last, Pearl, Yu Chu was born in Ipoh, Perak,

Whom I used to know when the family lived in Penang.

After his time at the Institute of Medical Research was over,

He started his medical practice at Chulia Street and lived in Green Hall,

Until he was invited to accept the appointment by the Grand Councilor,

Yuan Shi-Kai of China to be the Vice-Director of Imperial Army Medical College in Tientsin.

He left early in May 1908 for Shanghai in the North German Lloyd liner, ‘Prinzessin Alice’.

Prior to his leaving for Tientsin, Wu Lien-T eh paid a visit to England,

Where he attended a big Anti-Opium Meeting at Queen’s Hall in London,

Where he gave an address which was well received by the participants.

Before that while he was in Penang he had carried out anti-opium activities,

Which led to his prosecution by the authorities for possessing, without licence,

“An ounce of tincture of opium” and was fined one hundred Straits dollars.


In 1910, he was called upon to Harbin in Manchuria to end the bubonic plague,

A task which was claiming thousands of lives, both Chinese and Russian.

How he did it has been well recorded in his autobiography,

And in the medical history of bacteriology in the world, more than a century ago.

You can read a short summary of Wu Lien-Teh’s life, in an article

Published in the book, “Doctors Extraordinaire” by Ho Tak Ming in August 1983.

All I can say is that in his autobiography, you will not only find his life history

And contribution to medical science, but the amount of history

And important people who lived at that time and their contribution

Should actually be a text book for historians, medical and political.

It is with much regret, in retrospect, that after a century of what this medical man

From Penang Free School had contributed, that at last we are giving him the due recognition

Of his life and what he had done for the world, and by reflection for his country, Malaya then, By the formation of The Dr. Wu Lien-Teh Society of Penang, spearheaded by none other

Then my good friend, an old Free, Dato’ Prof. Dr Anwar Mohd. Fazal

At its Inaugural Meeting on 14th October 2012 held at the Penang Medical College.

The Society was duly approved by the Registrar of Societies subsequently.

  •  08.03.2014


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Celebrating the life of the man who brought modern medicine to China, who fought the Manchurian plague, and who set the standard for generations of doctors to follow. 伍连德博士 : 斗疫防治,推进医学 , 歌颂国士无双