HKBU launches Phytochemical Images Database to provide easy access to Chinese medicine information

(14 October 2015) The School of Chinese Medicine (SCM) of Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) launched Hong Kong’s first-ever Phytochemical Images Database this year, increasing the number of databases under the Chinese Medicine Digital Project to four. The other three are: Chinese Medicine Specimen Database , Medicinal Plant Images Database and Chinese Medicinal Material Images Database. All four databases are available in both Chinese and English, enabling teachers, students, researchers, professionals in the field as well as people from all over the world to acquire professional knowledge of Chinese medicine online.

Apart from providing information on bioactive compounds found in medicinal herbs, the Phytochemical Images Database developed by Dr Han Quanbin, Assistant Professor, Teaching and Research Division of SCM, also introduces methods of qualitative/quantitative analysis and sample preparation as well as real spectra of NMR/MS/IR. Linked together, the latest database, the Medicinal Plant Images Database and the Chinese Medicinal Material Images Database complement one another and in so doing, become even more useful for the user.

The School of Chinese Medicine is continuing to plough their efforts into building an even larger digital platform. Professor Chen Hubiao of the Teaching and Research Division and coordinator of the entire digital project said that a Chinese Medical Formulae Images Database which is currently under development is scheduled for completion by the end of next year. He is also planning to develop a database on Chinese medicine for health preservation. The classification system adopted in that database will take reference from a Chinese medicine regimen book series he co-authored with Dr Dang Yi, Chinese medicine health preservation expert of SCM. The eight-volume book set covers the topic of health preservation in Chinese medicine, including the drinking of tea, wine and soup and consumption of cereals, beans, congee, ginseng and flowers.

Professor Chen Hubiao said: “In view of the profundity of Chinese medicine and abundance of Chinese medicinal herbs, conducting field trips to collect samples and information for further research, collating data and deciding on classification are extremely challenging but meaningful tasks. In addition to being an effective teaching and learning tool, the collection of databases which is available for free on the internet serves as an effective means to pass on Chinese medicine knowledge to people from all corners of the world.”

In addition, an online Chinese medicine game-based exercise, based on the content of the Medicinal Plant Images Database, has also been launched to enable Chinese medicine students and people interested in Chinese medicinal plants to conduct self-learning and self-assessment via the internet. Quizzes for the other two databases will be developed in the near future.