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2 May, 2017 - 13:32 By Tony Quested

Cambridge’s Traditional Chinese Medicine mission gathers pace

Dr Tai Ping Fan Cambridge University

A vision to create a sustainable Cambridge research centre for Ethnopharmacology, incorporating Traditional Chinese Medicine, is gathering momentum against a backdrop of growing East-West collaboration in the arena.

Cambridge is also part of a drive to encourage integration of Chinese and western medical practices and for pan-European adoption of TCM as a major contribution to improving healthcare throughout the EU.

A high profile Czech delegation, led by Health Minister Dr Miloslav Ludvik and including several high ranking government officials and healthcare luminaries, is in London and Cambridge this week to discuss the benefits of TCM for their country.

Dr Tai-Ping Fan, of Cambridge University’s Pharmacology Department – who is heading the campaign for a Cambridge TCM centre – says the Czech initiative could lead to adoption of TCM principles in another eastern European countries and across the whole of the EU as well, regardless of Brexit.

The university’s Cambridge Judge Business School, top colleges and Addenbrooke’s Hospital are all hosting visits by the delegation. The party is also meeting Professor Chris Lowe, the biotech dontrepreneur who is a leading light in the newly-established Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences.

Topics on the table include possible collaborations in the fields of psychiatry, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s as well as alliances between universities and hospitals in the Czech Republic and China.

Cambridge Judge Business School will fuel discussions on themes including circular economics, artificial intelligence in healthcare and health management.

The Addenbrooke’s Hospital session will broaden dialogue on digitalisation/EHR as well as detailing relevant health statistics, procurement processes and clinical postgraduate education.

The Czech Chamber of Deputies approved near the end of April to incorporate TCM as an integral part of the Czech healthcare system.  

Dr Fan said: “This historic decision in favour of TCM will have far-reaching effects on other Central and Eastern European countries and the EU. 

“Deeper integration between ‘East and West’ is happening in many places. We as Europeans don’t want to be left behind. Funded by the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme, we established the EU’s coordination action dedicated to good practice in TCM, engaging 112 institutions from 24 countries.”

Dr Fan is also president of the GP-TCM Research Association – the EU’s first co-ordinated body for TCM research in active collaboration with a multitude of hospitals, universities and research institutes in Greater China.

He was greatly encouraged by events just before Christmas which witnessed China’s first law on TCM being passed by the top legislature to ensure development of the time-honoured medical art and science and enhance the public’s ability to access more quality products and related services. 

“This clearly signalled that a new era for TCM has arrived,” he said.

“Looking back at the beginning of the European Commission Framework 7 Programme Coordination Action – ‘Good Practice in TCM Research in the Postgenomic Era’ (GP-TCM, 2009-2012) – we have come a long way.”

Supported by a €10 million donation from CEFC China Energy Company Ltd., a purpose-built TCM Centre will be opened in the Czech Republic in 2018/2019. Dr Fan wants Cambridge to remain a major player regarding adoption of TCM.

He says: “Eight years on from launching our vision for a TCM research centre in Cambridge we are getting ever closer to creating a sustainable Research Centre for Ethnopharmacology, incorporating TCM.

“For that progress we have many people to thank for their enthusiastic support. They include Professor Alan Barrell (chairman of BBD UK), and Cambridge university standard-bearers like Alan Macfarlane (Anthropology), Chris Lowe (Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences; biotechnology), Andreas Bender (Chemistry; chemogenomics), Sabine Bahn (Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology; neuropsychiatry) and Peter St George-Hyslop (Cambridge Institute for Medical Research neurodegenerative diseases).”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Dr Tai-Ping Fan (left) at the recent Business Weekly Awards gala dinner at Queens’ College in Cambridge. Picture by Tony Lumb .

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