Wang was born in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. He first studied applied chemistry at Zhejiang University. He went to Nanjing and graduated from the Department of Industrial Chemistry, University of Nanking in 1931. He obtained his PhD from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in 1937.
Between November 1952 and July 1984, chronologically, Wang was the deputy director, acting director, director (later the honorary director 1984–1997) of the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Science (Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry is the most prestigious institute for organic chemistry research in China).
Wang participated and played an important role in the artificial synthesis of cattle insulin. He also made contributions to modern Chinese biochemical industries.
- Member, Chinese Academy of Science (1955 election)
- Foreign member, French Academy of Sciences (1984) 
- Foreign member, Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities (1988) 
- Honorary member, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1986)
- Wang's biography in Baidu.com “中国抗生素研究的奠基人之一……”
- French Academy of Sciences Wang (Yu) - 7 juin 1910 à Hangzhou, Chine - 6 mai 1997 à Shangai élu Associé étranger le 12 mars 1984
- Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities Wang Yu, *1910 Hangzhou, † 1997, organische Chemie, em. Professor, Shanghai, Math.-nat. Kl., korr. M. 1988.