Traditional Chinese Medicine, one of the world’s oldest medical systems, plays an increasingly important role in the healthcare of China and its impact is also spreading worldwide. Integrating the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine into the present healthcare system is a new trend with a momentum growing from East to West.
Professor Bian Zhaoxiang, a leading expert in Chinese medicine clinical studies, is Associate Vice-President (Chinese Medicine Development), Director and Chair Professor of the Clinical Division, the School of Chinese Medicine of HKBU. He received his Bachelor (Chinese medicine) and Master (Chinese medicine) of Philosophy degrees in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and his Doctorate degree (Integrative medicine) at Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. He joined HKBU in 2001.
Professor Bian has made a seminal contribution to the research of Chinese medicine in gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, which have become increasingly common, such as colorectal cancer, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic constipation, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and so on. Although Western medicine has provided cures for these diseases, patients are constantly afflicted by the side effects that accompany treatment. Therefore, more and more patients are turning to Chinese medicine, which not only has proven effectiveness but also has fewer side effects.
In 2016, his team found that a natural compound, “Pd-Ib”, extracted from the Chinese herbs Bupleurum malconense could effectively alleviate acute ulcerative colitis. The research team was granted a US patent and expected to develop “Pd-Ib” into a new drug. In the same year, HKBU entered into a cooperation agreement with The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and PuraPharm Corporation Ltd to develop new drugs for treating IBS. This collaboration was founded on a pioneer project between Professor Bian’s research team and the Faculty of Medicine of CUHK that had been treating IBS with Chinese medicine since 2002. In the past decade Professor Bian has also led an international group of experts to work on standardised reporting guidelines for Chinese medicine clinical trials. In 2017, the group published a recommendation for reporting clinical trials with Chinese medical formulas in the internationally renowned Annals of Internal Medicine, the goal being that the guidelines will lift the quality of reporting and therefore enhance the global influence of Chinese medicine.
The impact of Professor Bian’s research is also evident in his ever-growing list of patents, awards and published papers. By June 2017, Professor Bian possessed 52 patents. He has presented over 300 papers in journals, books and conferences, and received a host of national accolades including second prize in the National Science and Technology Advancement Award of China.
Realising the imperative need for conducting Chinese medicine clinical studies, Professor Bian initiated the establishment, and later became Director, of the Hong Kong Chinese Medicine Clinical Study Centre, the first and only centre focusing on Chinese medicine clinical trials in the territory. He oversees the operation of 16 Chinese medicine clinics and the establishment of the “Hong Kong Baptist University – Jockey Club Chinese Medicine Disease Prevention and Health Management Centre”, amongst other initiatives. He has been a long-term advocate for the establishment of a Chinese medicine hospital in Hong Kong.
“Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of our national treasures. Today, Chinese medicine demonstrates significant therapeutic effects on a variety of illnesses, including some that cannot be completely cured by Western medicine. We hope that through the Endowed Chair of Chinese Medicine Clinical Studies, more Chinese medicine talents can be nurtured and more scientific evidence on the efficacy of Chinese medicine can be found. Also, we envisage that more new drugs can be developed based upon Chinese medicine to enhance public health.”
Interview with Professor Bian Zhaoxiang