School of Chinese Medicine


Research Questions

  • Why is traditional Chinese medicine considered as great source for innovative technology for human health and drug development?
  • What is the scientific basis of traditional Chinese medicine which has long history and is effective for the treatment of many diseases?
  • Can the efficacies of Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture be proved by using the approaches of evidence-based medicine?
  • How does autoimmunity initiate, progress and result in organ dysfunction during Sjogren's syndrome development?
  • How are the immune checkpoints regulated during the development of autoimmunity?
  • Whether and how Chinese herbal medicine can leverage the immune checkpoint, or synergise with current clinical management to promote the therapeutic effects of Sjogren's syndrome?
Chinese Medicine Clinical Skills Training Centre
Research Areas

1. Discover Molecular Mechanisms and Develop Therapeutic Approaches for Nephrology and Diabesity

Ongoing projects include:

  • Exploring the functional role of genes, proteins and signalling pathways, and immune regulations in kidney diseases and diabesity
  • Developing therapeutic approaches (gene therapy, Chinese medicine, and active compounds) to prevent and treat kidney diseases and diabesity
  • Evaluating the effectiveness and safety of Chinese medicine in treating inflammatory and metabolic diseases via evidence-based approaches
Supervisor(s)

Dr HY Chen

 

2. Therapeutic Principle of Chinese Medicinal Herbs for Treatment of Cancer and Metabolic Diseases

 

3. Pharmacology and Toxicology of Chinese Medicinal Herbs

The research concentrates on the clinical trial and experimental study (cell and animal models) of Chinese medicinal herbs for cancer, and diabetic, hepatic and renal diseases by using recently developed techniques in clinical research, molecular biology and immunology.

The research also focuses on the following topics: standardisation and quality control of Chinese medicinal herbs; pharmacological screening and safety evaluation of Chinese medicinal herbs; pharmacological action and its mechanism in Chinese medicinal herbs. The mid- and long-term plans of this research programme include the use of advanced technologies of omics and multiple disciplinary methodologies to analyse the Chinese herbal extract or phytocompound-responsive genes or protein expression profiles in terms of cancer and metabolic diseases. All these activities will lead to new drug discovery from Chinese medicines for cancer, and liver, diabetic, hepatic and renal diseases.

Supervisor(s)

Dr Y Feng

 

4. Chinese Medicine / Immunology

Chinese herbal medicine has natural advantages in immunomodulation. The research aims to:

  • Identify novel mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), type 1 diabetes (T1D) and primary Sjogren's syndrome (pSS);
  • Study the immunomodulatory functions of formulae or effective compounds from Chinese herbal medicine
  • Conduct translational studies of Chinese herbal medicine for treating autoimmune disease in humans and our established mouse models
Supervisor(s)

Dr X Lin

 

5. Targeting Innate Immunity for Resolution of Inflammation and Tissue Repair

Our research focuses on the molecular mechanisms by which Chinese medicines reprogram macrophages and neutrophils against inflammation and tissue remodelling in myocardial infarction, obesity and neurodegenerative diseases. We apply genomics, proteomics, chemical biology and cell signalling technologies to identify the active compounds and target proteins in different cell models and animal models. Our ongoing projects are designed to

  1. characterise neuroprotective and neurotrophic Chinese medicines;
  2. discover new mechanisms for drug discovery; and
  3. prepare novel small molecular probes for target identification.

Our long-term goal is to develop novel therapeutics for the treatment of myocardial infarction, obesity, depression and neurodegeneration.

Supervisor(s)

Dr J Rong

 

6. Chemical Biology for Molecular Medicine: Oxidative and Redox Regulation in Brain Damage and Application for Drug Discovery to Treat Ischaemic Stroke and Multiple Sclerosis

The study will apply chemical biology approaches and molecular biology technology to evaluate the molecular mechanisms related to oxidative and redox regulation of the blood brain barrier in ischaemic stroke and multiple sclerosis animal models. The study will mainly focus on the roles of reactive nitrogen species (RNS) on cellular signal molecules and their post-transcriptional factors in neural injury and blood brain barrier permeability in the central nervous system (CNS). The molecular targets will be used to seek active ingredients from Chinese herbal medicine for the prevention and treatment of the breakdown of the blood brain barrier. This is a component of a collaborative project that involves multidisciplinary scientists and is supported by the Research Grants Council's Areas of Excellence scheme. Students will join a dynamic research team with multidisciplinary experts to develop novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for neurological diseases.

 

7. Stem Cell Therapy and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for Brain Repair in Post-Stroke Treatment

The study will develop multidisciplinary approaches to explore molecular targets of neural stem cells and screen active ingredients of Chinese herbal medicine targeting on the molecular targets for stimulating neurogeneration and improving recovery of neurological functions. This is an international collaboration project that involves multidisciplinary scientists from Mainland China, the USA and Hong Kong. The major research activities include

  1. exploring the molecular mechanisms of promoting proliferation and differentiation of neural stem cells;
  2. seeking active compounds for promoting neurogenesis;
  3. studying the pharmacokinetic and pharmacological properties of the active compounds; and
  4. developing quality control for herbal medicine.

 

8. Artificial Intelligence Recognitions for Traditional Chinese Medicine Pulse Patterns and Its Correlation Study with Body Constitution Types in Healthy Human Subjects

Palpation or sphygmopalpation is an essential diagnostic method Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for diagnosing diseases and guiding treatments. To exploring the scientific basis of TCM sphygmopalpation, we have recently developed artificial intelligence-based pulse sensing platform plus a palpation robotic hand (AIPSP) to recognize common pulse patterns diagnosed by experienced CMP. The objectives include

  1. To develop and use AI-PSP-PRH system to recognise TCM pulse patterns diagnosed by TCM practitioners.
  2. To explore the correlation between pulse classification and cardiovascular tests in healthy volunteers.
  3. To investigate the correlation of pulse patterns and TCM body constitutions in healthy volunteers and cardiovascular disease patients.

The student will be expectedly to participate in a multidisciplinary research project to conduct the study on artificial intelligence recognitions for TCM Pulse Patterns and its correlations with cardiovascular functions and body constitution. He/she will have opportunity to work with clinicians and biomedical engineers. Having obtained the qualifications of a Chinese Medicinal Licence or a Western Medicine Practice Licence would be an advantage.

 

9. Clinical Trials for Evaluating Efficacies of TCM Formula for Ischaemic Stroke and Chronic Heart Failure

There are two on-going clinical trials to evaluate the efficacies of TCM formulas for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases:

(1) Efficacies of a TCM formula for chronic heart failure: This is a multiple centre clinical trial involving many hospitals from Mainland China and Hong Kong to evaluate the efficacies of a TCM formula as adjunct therapy for primary outcome and cardiovascular functions in chronic heart failure;

(2) Efficacies of a classic TCM formula for acute ischemic stroke: This is a multiple centre clinical trial for the study of ischemic stroke treatment with Chinese herbal medicine involving several hospitals in Hong Kong. The study will investigate the efficacy and safety of the TCM formula against ischaemic brain injury in clinical trials.

Students will join a dynamic group and have intensive interaction with Chinese medicine experts, neurologists and cardiologists to conduct clinical investigations. Having obtained the qualifications of a Chinese Medicinal Licence or a Western Medicine Practice Licence would be an advantage, but is not an essential requirement.

Supervisor(s)

Professor JG Shen

 

10. Novel Therapeutic Targets and Mechanisms of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) In Treating Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancers and Metabolic Disorders

The study aims to understand the complicated mechanisms and molecular connection underlying the efficacy of TCM and natural compounds. Our lab is committed to the full use of modern technologies and multidisciplinary platforms to conduct innovative study of TCM, and has been actively engaged in the basic science and translational research on the prevention and treatment of human GI cancers and metabolic disorders using Chinese herbal medicine. Major research areas include:

  1. establishment of molecular landscape in TCM diagnosis of human GI cancers and metabolic disorders;
  2. identification of new therapeutic targets of natural compounds and TCM in human GI cancers and metabolic disorders;
  3. Discovery of potential lead from natural resources for the treatment of human GI cancers and metabolic disorders.

Our on-going studies wish to answer several research questions including (i) what are the molecular targets of TCM in treating GI cancers and metabolic diseases including obesity and diabetes; (ii) How the molecular targets of TCM work as a network in the internal microenvironments of diseased animals and patients; (iii) How the molecular networks of TCM commit the understanding of the link between molecular disorders and GI cancers.

Supervisor(s)

Dr N Wang

 

11. Basic and Clinical Studies on Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in the Treatment of Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders

  • Develop clinical trials to evaluate effectiveness and safety of acupuncture, Chinese medicine, and other non-pharmacological therapies in the management of major neurological and psychiatric disorders
  • Investigate psychopharmacological effects of natural compounds and traditional Chinese medicine formulae with the employment of behavioural, biochemical, molecular, and neuroimaging approaches for anxiety, mood, and psychotic disorders
  • Explore neural mechanisms of acupuncture effects
Supervisor(s)

Professor ZJ Zhang

Next Step?

For more information or to express interest to join the research areas, please email the supervisor or the specified contact point in the description. Interested candidates are advised to enclose with your email:

  1. your CV,
  2. a brief description of your research interest and experience, and
  3. two reference letters (not required for HKUMed UG students seeking MRes[Med]/URIS projects).

Research postgraduate studies enquiries specific to the department/school’s research should be directed to the Chairman of the Departmental Research Postgraduate Committee:

Professor JG Shen
shenjg@hku.hk

Information on the research programme, funding support and admission documentations could be referenced online at the Research Postgraduate Admissions website.

General admission enquiries should be directed to rpgmed@hku.hk.

Our Students

A research student working in a laboratory.
Jane Smith (Example)

Country of origin: Name of country
Progress: PhD Year X
Supervisor: Dr AB Chan

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May 2021