School of Chinese Medicine

Research Questions

  • Why is traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) 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 cancer, chronic, metabolic and various diseases?
  • Can the efficacies of Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture be proved by using the approaches of evidence-based medicine in the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders?
  • How does autoimmunity initiate, progress and result in organ dysfunction during Sjogren's syndrome development?
  • How does acupuncture exert its neuromodulatory effects at peripheral, visceral, and central nervous system levels?
  • Can we characterise novel constituents from Chinese medicines and mechanisms that are associated with the pathogenesis of nervous system diseases?
  • How are the immune checkpoints regulated during the development of autoimmunity?
  • How does artificial intelligence and big data analysis can explain the scientific nature of Chinese Medicine treatment?
  • Whether and how Chinese medicine can synergies with current clinical management to promote the therapeutic effects of human cancer and metabolic diseases?
  • What are the molecular targets of TCM in treating GI cancers and metabolic diseases including obesity and diabetes?
  • How the molecular targets of TCM work as a network in the internal microenvironments of diseased animals and patients?
  • How the molecular networks of TCM commit the understanding of the link between metabolic disorders and GI cancers?
  • What are the bioactive compounds in the traditional Chinese medicines?
  • How do Chinese medicines regulate the cellular signalling pathways and gene expression?
  • Is it possible to move a step forward to develop more potent compounds as candidate drugs?
  • How could we improve the bioavailability and organ-targeting of Chinese medicines? 
  • How does kidney injury happen in acute and chronic kidney diseases? 
  • How does epigenetics contribute to diabetic kidney diseases?
  • Is there laboratory and clinical evidence using Chinese medicine for these kidney diseases?
Researchers at the School of Chinese Medicine
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

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.


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

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. 

Our strategy applies 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.


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


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


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


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


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. 

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

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

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