Dr. Han Quanbin is currently Associate Professor of the School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU). Dr. Han received his Bachelor (Chinese medicine) and Master (Medicinal Chemistry) of Science degrees from the Henan University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and his Doctorate (Natural Product Chemistry) at the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He joined HKBU in 2011.
Dr. Han is an expert in natural product chemistry, quality analysis of herb medicines and natural polysaccharides. He conducted a series of phytochemical investigations into Garcinia plants and carried out research into the quality control of Chinese medicines. His current research interests focus on the chemistry, quality control methodology and bioactivities of polysaccharides in Chinese medicines.
Among Dr. Han's eminent research works is the development of a novel method to authenticate Tiepi Shihu, a rare and expensive Chinese herb. In the past, the industry has relied on experts, DNA bar-coding or microscopic identification to differentiate Tiepi Shihu from other species. However, these methods are relatively costly and cannot determine the content of active substances. After much study, Dr. Han and his team identified a unique polysaccharide in the herb that can serve as a marker to distinguish Tiepi Shihu quickly and effectively. This invention has won Dr. Han and his team a number of awards, including a silver medal at the Hong Kong Innovative Invention Award in 2017 presented by the Hong Kong Federation of Innovative Technologies and Manufacturing Industries, and a gold medal at the First Asia Exhibition of Inventions Hong Kong in 2018. The innovation has been chosen by the China Association of Chinese Medicine for inclusion in its 2019 Compilation of Outstanding Research Achievements by Young Scholars of Chinese Medicine.
With this patented technology and financial support from the HKSAR Government’s Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities, Dr. Han founded the Hong Kong Authentication Centre of Dendrobii Officinalis Caulis to offer innovative, cost-effective authentication technologies and services to the Chinese medicine industry. In 2020, Dr. Han and his team developed a novel rapid testing method for another precious Chinese herb, Cordyceps sinensis. The technique not only shows a significant cost advantage but also has an accuracy comparable to the traditional genetic identification method. It has been licensed to a technology-based start-up company for commercial application.
In 2015, Dr. Han helped the School of Chinese Medicine launch Hong Kong’s first-ever bilingual Phytochemical Images Database. Apart from providing information on bioactive compounds found in medicinal herbs, the Database introduces methods of qualitative/quantitative analysis and sample preparation as well as real spectra of NMR/MS/IR. The Database enables teachers, students, researchers and professionals in the field as well as people throughout the world to acquire professional knowledge of Chinese medicine online.
As of December 2019, Dr. Han has gained 13 patents and secured 17 external research grants. He has published more than 200 scientific papers, including in renowned academic journals such as Natural Product Reports, Current Medicinal Chemistry, Organic Letter, Journal of Chromatography A, and Journal of Natural Products. He serves on the editorial boards of several scientific journals including Molecules, PLoS One, and Modern Chemotherapy. He also serves as a member of the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong, and as a panel member of the Hong Kong Council for Testing and Certification.
Mr. Vincent Woo and Mrs. Lily Woo
“Since its founding in 1999, HKBU's School of Chinese Medicine has been developing various platforms to conduct innovative research, engaging experts in the testing, authentication and standardisation of Chinese medicine, contributing to the improvement of public health and the well-being of mankind. I hope this first-ever associate professorship endowment at HKBU and the continuous support from our Foundation will help advance the development and internationalisation of Chinese medicine, to elevate its status in modern medicine.”
Interview with Dr. Han Quanbin