Shan-ming Tao educated at Ginling College from which she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1922. She proceeded to America, under one of the Barbour scholarships for study at the University of Michigan Medical School from 1922 till 1924, where she completed her preclinical sciences after which, was awarded Rockefeller fellowship at Johns Hopkins University.
Shan-ming Tao served as senior bacteriologist to Michigan State Department of Health from 1927 till 1928. She returned to China in 1928 and served as technical expert in Bacteriology to the National Epidemic Prevention Bureau in Peiping, China from 1929 till 1931.
She was professor of bacteriology and parasitology at the Woman's Christian Medical College and at the same time director of clinical laboratories at the Margaret Williamson Hospital, Shanghai from 1931 till 1933. She was a chief of vaccine division of the National Epidemic Prevention Bureau from 1933. She is the author of a number of papers on bacteriological, parasitological and public health subjects.