The Department of Natural Medicines was established in December, 1996. It is composed of five research divisions, including Pharmacognosy, Natural Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacognostical Biotechnology, Medicinal Botany, and Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine.It dates back to 1941 as the Pharmacognosy department of the Institute for Chinese Herbal Medicine. The first chair of the department was Prof. Yuhuang Zhao. In 1943, it became part of the Department of Pharmaceutics of Peking University Medical School. From 1951 on, distinguished scholars in pharmacognosy, Prof. Zhicen Lou, Prof. Jingrong Cheng and Prof. Qishou Lin joined the faculty and worked as academic leaders. Prof. Zhicen Lou was elected as academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering in 1994.
Our department owns master, doctoral and postdoctoral training programs, which are among the earliest approved in China. It offers undergraduate courses of Pharmacognosy, Natural Medicinal Chemistry, and Medicinal Botany. It also provided more than 10 advanced courses for graduate students. In the past years, a large number of outstanding scientists have graduated from our department. Some of them have become pacemakers in TCM researching institutes, colleges, and manufacturing sector.
Our department has a strong faculty team including four full professors, eight associate professors, and four supervisors for PhD candidates. Fifteen faculty members are PhDs. In total, four professors have received the National Outstanding Youth Grant from NSFC. Four professors were elected as committee members of the Chinese Pharmacopoeia Commission. In 2005, the Pharmacognosy division was elected as Innovation Team supported by the Ministry of Education.
The department owns excellent facilities and equipments, offering favorable environment for scientific research. Instruments from the Schoolof Pharmaceutical Sciences are available, including NMR, MS, IR, UV, Fluorometer, and LC/MS. We are equipped with more than 20 HPLC instruments, together with digital microscopes, DNA amplifiers, HSCCC, LC/MS, and GC/MS.
Following the steps on TCM modernization, our department is committed to establishing a characteristic TCM research system, as well as to develop TCM and natural medicine-based new drugs. Currently, we are mainly involved in four research areas: (i)Bioactive natural product chemistry and new drug discovery, (ii)Species authentication and quality evaluation of TCM, (iii)chemical basis of TCM complex systems and their mechanism of action, and (iv)ADME and biotransformation of bioactive natural products.
In the past five years, the Department of Natural Medicines undertakes more than 70 research programs at national and ministerial levels. More than 500 research articles, including over 200 SCI-cited, have been published. Over 20 patents were issued; seven new drugs have been developed, and two new drugs have been approved by SFDA. These achievements in scientific research received 11 awards at national and ministerial levels.
In the new era, the Department of Natural Medicines aims at in-depth investigation of key scientific issues in innovative drug discovery, as well as TCM modernization and globalization. We are looking forward to further contribution to traditional Chinese medicine and the TCM industry.