1. History

School of Life Science and Engineering of Southwest Jiaotong University evolved from Department of Chemical Engineering of Tangshan Jiaotong University (the predecessor of Southwest Jiaotong University), founded in 1950. In the national-wide adjustment and merging of schools and departments of colleges and universities in 1952, the Department of Chemical Engineering was incorporated into Tianjin University, and the remaining formed the Chemical Teaching and Research Office dedicated to delivering basic courses of chemistry in Tianjin University.

SWJTU stepped up efforts to expand the coverage of academic programs after it was shifted under the direct administration of Ministry of Education from the former Ministry of Railways in 2000. In response to the national strategy of pushing forward the development of western regions, SWJTU founded the Department of Bio-engineering on the basis of the Chemical Teaching and Research Office to make full use of abundant biological resources in western China and the prominent advantages of Chinese herbal medicine industry.

In 2002, SWJTU planned to set up the School of Pharmacy (currently in the preparatory stage) on E’mei Campus. In 2005, the Department of Bio-engineering of SWJTU grew into the School of Bio-engineering. In July 2008, the School of Bio-engineering and the School of Pharmacy (in the preparatory stage) merged into School of Life Science and Engineering in the light of the university-level discipline improvement and calibrating plan.

2. Current Development

School of Life Science and Engineering currently boasts two undergraduate programmes, namely pharmaceutical engineering programme and bio-engineering programme, one of the prestigious programmes in Sichuan Province. The School collaborates with Georgia State University in offering a bachelor’s Degree (3+1) Program for undergraduate students in bio-engineering and a master’s Degree (1+2) Program for postgraduate students. Besides, it has been approved to offer postgraduate programs under the first-level discipline of pharmacy and under the second-level discipline of biochemistry and molecular biology and authorized to grant ME degrees for students pursuing programs in bio-engineering and pharmaceutical engineering. Additionally, school recruited doctoral students based on the doctoral program of Materials Science and Engineering in the direction of innovative drugs and carrier materials.

The current enrollment of the School includes over 1,000 undergraduates and nearly 200 postgraduates and doctoral candidates. There are near 100 staff in total, half of which ever studied or worked overseas. Among them 70 are full-time teachers, 1 academician who are employed by two or more institutions at the same time, 1 Distinguished Professors of the “Cheung Kong Scholars” Program and The National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars Program, 14 professors, 36 associate professors, and above 60% doctoral degree holders. The School has three departments (Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Department of Bio-engineering and Department of Pharmacy) and one Experiment Center. Labs cover a total area of nearly 6,000 square meters, with over 3,500 sets of teaching and research facilities worth about 35 million yuan in total. The Center is committed to the delivery of two university-level courses of General Chemistry and Introduction to Life Science of the University, the School’s theoretical courses and experiment instruction.

Taking advantage of abundant biological resources in Sichuan Province and western China, Department of Pharmacy of the School pumped great efforts to study natural drugs and has made great progress. It has systematically studied the chemical constituents and function mechanisms of a group of natural medicinal plants such as Mangnolia officinalis, Valeriana jatamansi Jones, anthriscus sylvestris, long pepper and Linder. It has won more than 10 patents of invention and received funds dedicated to projects, including Special Project for “Significant New Drugs Development” of Ministry of Science and Technology of China and National Natural Science Foundation of China. The related achievement has been awarded 1 First Prize of Natural Science Award from the Ministry of Education and nominated for the Second Prize of Natural Science of China.

In the area of biopharmacy, studies on small molecule polypeptide with strong anti-tumor effect have delivered the outcomes (with independent intellectual property rights). Furthermore, the Department joins hands with enterprises to develop multi-effect traditional Chinese medicines. Relevant disinfection products have gone into production phase and market with the official approval document from the local competent authorities, and derivative products will soon be conferred the official document approving preparation to be applied in hospitals. The Department studied various microorganisms and the effects of their metabolites in cure and health care, which is funded by National Natural Science Foundation. It has also done some research on the forms of protein drugs for colonic release and successfully synthesized the encapsulating material for this kind of drug.

It has made the best of traditional minority medicinal biological resources in nature reserves and folk prescriptions, combined modern genomics and proteomics, and applied high throughput technologies, such as analysis and test, to screen and study major illness-targeted drugs and optimize formulas and the drugs’ action mechanisms. It also adopted modern bio-engineering technologies to fuel the development of traditional drugs and medicines, achieving breakthroughs and accelerating the modernization of traditional drugs.

The biology programme, one of the most established programmes, underlies the establishment and development of other programmes of the School. At present, research fields and orientations of faculty members in biology programme cover 8 second-level disciplines, namely bioinformatics, biochemistry and molecular biology, botany, microbiology, genetics, developmental biology, cell biology and ecology. These 8 disciplines correlate with other significant disciplines of medicine, agronomy, engineering, forming a group of distinctive disciplines on the basis of established programmes.

The School carried out extensive exchanges and cooperation with colleges and universities, research institutions and manufacturing enterprise well known both at home and aboard. Its main research orientations are the R&D of new drugs, biological information and molecular evolution, technologies and equipment for bio-engineering, environmental biological technology, functional materials, applied chemistry and chemical engineering. It has directed or undertook numerous projects at national, provincial and ministerial level and scientific research projects sponsored by enterprises and public institutions, including National High Technology Research and Development Program (863 Program) and National Key Basic Research Program (973 Program), National Science and Technology Infrastructure and Facility Program, and projects initiated and funded by National Natural Science Foundation, Science and Technology Department of Sichuan Province as well as Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine of Sichuan Province.

3. Vision and Mission

The School promotes the spirit of SWJTU of “cultivating talents for the rejuvenation of Chinese nation, persevering in the betterment of individual merits” and adheres to the principle of “rigorous scholarship and strict requirements”. The School makes full use of the engineering education resources of SWJTU, further develops the prestigious programme of pharmacy, attaches great importance to the discipline development, prioritizes teaching quality, highlights the improvement of teaching faculty and secure coordinated development of production, study & research. All efforts are made to achieve the ultimate goal to cultivate high-end innovative and interdisciplinary talents with solid academic qualifications, excellent qualities and competitiveness in the field of life science and engineering.

All the faculty members and students are endeavoring to develop a world-class research-oriented comprehensive university with distinctive features in transportation and traffic under the guidance of the principle of “focusing on talent cultivation, identifying the orientations of discipline development, improving the teaching faculty, giving full play to the School’s exemplary role, and fueling the advancement of life science”.