Exploring the treasure house

Group photo

Mao Zedong said that “Chinese medicine is a great treasure house and should be diligently explored and improved upon”

On 12 January, researchers and innovators from China and the UK met to discuss their ongoing effort to explore and improve traditional Chinese medicine. The workshop, held under the aegis of the Sino-UK Centre of Excellence for Plant and Microbial Sciences (CEPAMS) included the Chinese Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, the Capital Medical University, the CAS Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, the CAS Centre for Excellence in Molecular Plant Sciences and the John Innes Centre.

Delegates discussed the challenges facing traditional Chinese medicine including the availability of high-quality raw materials to industry, constraints on land use and the evidence base accessible to practitioners.

Delegates also discussed the huge opportunities offered by research and innovation, including better understanding of the production of natural products in medicinal herbs, the improvement of medicinal plants and the possibility of synthesising active compounds industrially.

In the spirit of Chairman Mao’s words in 1958, UK delegates were warned not to equate “traditional” with conservatism – if the full potential of traditional Chinese medicine is to be unleashed globally, it must be continually improved upon.

The President of Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Xu Anlong, gave an uplifting keynote address at the workshop, telling delegates that their efforts to decode traditional Chinese medicine could have great impact on the health and well-being of the Chinese population and across the globe.