China established the National Supreme Scientific and Technological Award in 1999, to acknowledge Chinese scientists who make breakthroughs in leading scientific fields, technological innovation and application, and high-tech development.
The top honour is bestowed on no more than two individuals each year. Each winner is given a prize of 5 million yuan (US$617,283).
The 2005 prize winners are Wu Mengchao and Ye Duzheng.
Thousands of liver cancer patients in China have overcome the disease to enjoy a prolonged life span in the past decade, thanks to Wu's advanced studies.
How to minimize blood staunching in surgery and restrain the development of advanced cancers are two key problems in hepatology the science which treats the liver.
Devoting his career to studying liver-related diseases and clinical research, Wu's extraordinary contribution won him the great laurel yesterday.
Wu, 84, graduated from the medical school in Tongji University in 1949. As the pioneer in liver and gallbladder surgery in China, he worked out the anatony of the Chinese liver in the 1950s. He performed the first surgery to help treat liver disease in 1968.
Based on the theory and his working experience, his mature technique in liver surgical practice has led to a systematic liver disease treating method, guiding the field.
Previously high death rates after operations had been very common.
Wu and his team developed state-of-the-art methods to help correct disordered metabolisms for patients in the post-surgery period.
The methods has helped numerous patients to resume their lives.
Liver cancer is the second biggest killer in urban areas in China, behind lung cancer, and ranking above stomach cancer, according to the Ministry of Health.
It has various causes, forms and complications, including hepatitis, liver failure and hepatic necrosis.
Millions of families in the country are exposed to liver diseases, since some types are epidemic.
Wu's efforts in treating patients with advanced liver cancer have earned him a worldwide reputation.
The introduction of the "second phase operation" method to alleviate pain was adopted by others in the field.
The survival rate in a five-year span after surgery has improved from 16 per cent during 1960s-70s, to 30.6 per cent in 1989 and nearly 50 per cent in 1990.
During his 40 years of medical practice, Wu has conducted more than 8,000 cancer removing operations, with the survival rate at 38.1 per cent.
More than 1,000 other patients with smaller tumours have gained a much greater chance for survival after surgical treatment by Wu, with 80 per cent living for more than five years. .
One patient even lived for another 36 years in his post-operation time.
By 1986, Wu had carried out 1,019 operations for hepatic lobe removals in liver surgery and 97 per cent were successful.
His work led to the establishment of the world's largest hepatopath research and healing centre.
Wu's stacks of academic papers and compiled books served to train the followers in the field.
Wu was named The Academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1991.
Ye Duzheng a leading name in the world meteorological community has been universally recognized as the founder of New China's meteorological research.
As a pioneer of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau Meteorology, Ye was the first in the world to stress the importance of the roof of the world as a heat source in summer and a cold source in winter.
His research in the field for almost half a century is considered as a major contribution to the understanding of general circulation over Asia.
Ye extended his studies to include the general circulation over the whole northern hemisphere.
His outstanding academic achievements have won him numerous prize awards and distinctions at national and international levels.
In February 2004, Ye received the prestigious International Meteorological Organization Prize (IMO Prize) from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
It was the first time that a Chinese scientist had been awarded the honour since the inception of the prize in 1955.
Michel Jarraud, WMO's secretary-general, said Ye was awarded the prize for "over six decades of meteorological investigation, research and training, and invaluable service to meteorology not only in China but also in Asia and at a global level."
Besides serving as an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Ye has worked in numerous international scientific organizations.
He is a foreign member of the Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters, honorary member of the Royal Meteorological Society of the United Kingdom, and honorary member of the American Meteorological Society.
Yesterday, when the 90-year-old received the 2005 National Top Prize for Science and Technology from the hands of President Hu Jintao, he had every reason to think that the choice he made in 1950 to return to motherland could not have been wiser.
Ye was born in North China's Tianjin Municipality in 1916. After graduating from the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing in 1940, Ye left for the United States to further his studies.
In 1948, Ye received a PhD from the University of Chicago, where he was taught by the world famous meteorologist Carl-Gustav Rossby (1898-1957).
During his candidacy, Ye took an active part in Rossby's researches on the general circulation of the atmosphere, particularly the then newly discovered jet streams
His excellent doctoral dissertation won him a well-paid job in the United States with a yearly salary of US$4,300, which was almost equal to that of a professor's income level at that time.
However, Ye gave up his job and returned to China in October 1950.
"I had a strong feeling that New China was hopeful and needed me," Ye said.
He said he was "moved to tears" when he saw a welcome crowd singing and dancing in Luohu Port in South China's Guangdong Province.
After returning to China, Ye and some other scientists became pioneers of China's meteorological research.
In 1958, Ye and his assistant, Dr Tao Shiyan, wrote the book "Some Fundamental Problems of the General Circulation of the Atmosphere," which was one of the earliest publications on the dynamics of general circulation.
In 1978, Ye became director of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
At the age of 90, Ye Duzheng is still busy with many research-related activities. "I am working eight hours a day but still find time is running short," Ye said.
Ye has been focusing on the effects of global warming since the 1980s and raised a concept of "orderly human activities" in 2003.
"A scientist's life is like a stage play, the success of which depends on two things: a good stage and a harmonious and unified group of performers," Ye said in an interview with Xinhua after winning the IMO Prize in 2004.
"I contributed all my success to the group of Chinese scientists who dedicated their lives to atmospheric studies."