Research Areas

School of Chinese Medicine

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?

Major Research Areas

Discover molecular mechanisms of nephrology and diabesity and develop therapeutic approaches for these diseases:

Our 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.

Contact Person(s)

Dr H.Y. Chen
Tel: 3917 6413
Email: haiyong@hku.hk

Research and development of Chinese herbal medicine for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer:

The study will develop multidisciplinary approaches to evaluate the efficacy and potential mechanism of Chinese herbal medicine in the prevention and treatment of the recurrence and metastasis of breast cancer. The major research directions include:

  • Seeking and developing herbal formulae, herbs and active compounds for preventing or reducing recurrence and metastasis of breast cancer, and exploring the molecular mechanisms.
  • Developing chinese medicine to improve the effectiveness and decrease the side effects of chemotherapy drugs, including basic and clinical research.
  • Developing nanoparticles of traditional chinese medicine and exploring the advantages of combination drugs for the treatment of breast cancer.

Contact Person(s)

Dr J.P. Chen
Tel: 3917 6479
Email: abchen@hku.hk

Therapeutic principle of Chinese medicinal herbs for treatment of cancer and metabolic diseases:
The research will concentrate 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 study, molecular biology and immunology.

Pharmacology and toxicology of Chinese medicinal herbs:
The research will focus 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 drug discovery for cancer, and liver, diabetic, hepatic and renal diseases.

Contact Person(s)

Dr Y. Feng
Tel: 3917 6482
Email: yfeng@hku.hk

Regulation of innate immunity for resolution of inflammation and tissue repair:
Our research focuses on the molecular mechanisms by which Chinese medicines regulate macrophages and neutrophils against inflammation and tissue remodelling in myocardial infarction, obesity and neurodegenerative diseases. By using different cell models and animal models, we identify the active compounds and target proteins by applying genomics, proteomics, chemical biology and cell signalling technologies. Our ongoing projects are designed to (1) characterize neuroprotective and neurotrophic Chinese medicines; (2) discover new mechanisms against myocardial infarction, ischaemic stroke and cancers; 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.

Contact Person(s)

Dr J. Rong
Tel: 3917 6537
Email: jrong@hku.hk

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.

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.

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 License or a Western Medicine Practice License would be an advantage, but is not an essential requirement.

Contact Person(s)

Professor J.G. Shen
Tel: 3917 6429
Email: shenjg@hku.hk

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 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. 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.

Contact Person(s)

Dr M.N. Wang
Tel: 3917 6441
Email: ckwang@hku.hk

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.

Contact Person(s)

Professor Z.J. Zhang
Tel: 3917 0445
Email: zhangzj@hku.hk

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

Contact Person(s)

Dr Lin Xiang
Tel: 3917 6461
Email: linxiang@hku.hk

Chairman of Departmental Research Postgraduate Committee

Professor J.G. Shen
Tel: 3917 6429
Email: shenjg@hku.hk