7 July 2010

A public lecture at the University of Sydney will outline research melding the 2000-year old practices of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) with IT-based bioinformatics, building evidence-based data in an area of medicine facing increased government scrutiny.

TCM is gaining popularity in Australia but the customised nature of TCM prescriptions makes it difficult to evaluate by Western standards, says Dr Josiah Poon from the University's School of Information Technologies, who will host next month's Linking Practice to Research and Teaching of TCM lecture with Professor Kelvin Chan, Joint Chair of TCM at the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University and at the University of Western Sydney.

Dr Poon and Professor Chan are combining their respective expertise in health informatics and TCM to build evidence of the efficacy of TCM in conjunction with the Chinese

Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences. Academy Vice President Professor Baoyin Liu and Professor Chan will individually outline their work at the lecture.

"Unlike Western practices, TCM remedies aren't subject to clinical trials but - as the government looks to regulate practitioners from 2012 - there is a growing demand to prove the effectiveness of TCM with quantitative, empirical evidence," says Dr Poon.

"Our research applies data mining techniques and builds algorithms to ascertain the two or three core herbs used to treat particular ailments."

The University is working with the Beijing-based agency the Chinese Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences to build data on the efficacy of TCM treatments for insomnia.

"It's not enough to analyse the 120 herbs and 400 or so prescriptions used to cure insomnia," says Dr Poon. "We also factor in the four or five body types identified by TCM, as each body type responds differently to herbs.

"We have managed to find two or three herbs which seem to be very important for all insomnia treatments. The feedback on our results from Beijing has been favourable, and consistent with the theory of TCM as documented by centuries-old literature."

After completing its work on insomnia the group hopes to turn its research to public health issues of concern in both China and Australia such as cancer and diabetes.

The area of herbal and complementary medicines is a major industry in Australia, and is being increasingly recognised in the health policies of the federal and state governments.

The Herbal Medicines Research and Education Centre (HMREC) was established at the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney in July 1997 to carry out high quality research and education on herbal and complementary medicines.

The HMREC at the Faculty of Pharmacy offers a Master of Herbal Medicines as well as a Diploma or Certificate level qualification, as postgraduate courses of study for those health professionals wanting to upgrade and widen their knowledge base for use in practice or for professional interest.

Event: Linking Practice to Research and Teaching of TCM

Date: 22 July 2010

Time: 6pm for a 6.30pm start

Venue: New Law School Lecture Theatre 024

Cost: FREE but registration is essential.


Contact: Claire Riordan

Phone: 02 9351 2311

Email: 242f2f5830131f14035c1a0117192714491020561178013c07693733