During a clinical course in 1979, Xu, who had rejected a life in government to join med school, had his first experience with burn victims. When he discovered the gruesomeness of the only burn treatment available, he began his research. He found a practice more intent on limiting infection than regenerating the scarred tissue.
In the late 1970’s, while Xu was in his 20’s, he completed a number of animal experiments. Shortly after, he became his first human experiment, after a self-inflicted burn to his thigh. A year later, he cured a man who had open burn wounds for 10 straight months in 10 days.
The young med student locked himself in a room for the summer of 1981. He wrote an academic thesis of 250,000 words, which would become the theoretical foundation for his new technologies: Moist Exposed Burn Treatment and Moist Exposed Burn Ointment. It was the same document that would silence critics who posed questions about the student’s ability to create the technology.
Xu gained notoriety in 1983. In his first professional position, at the Jinan Third Hospital, he cured numerous cases of patients whose bodies were more than 55% burned.