Helping TCM Flourish in New Era

ByLin Zhiwen June 3, 2024

Helping TCM Flourish in New Era

"My original aspiration is saving people's lives, and my mission is boosting the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) industry through sci-tech innovation," says Liu Juyan, deputy general manager and chief engineer of Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Holdings Limited (GPHL). Liu has been engaged in the TCM industry for more than 40 years. She has taken the lead in researching key TCM extraction and separation technologies, and her research has helped raise the technological level of the TCM industry. She has also contributed to the cultivation of new quality productive forces in her industry.

Solving Difficulties 

After Liu obtained her Ph.D. from Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, in 1999, she began conducting postdoctoral research with China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences. In 2001, Liu was named general manager and a member of the first board of directors of Guangzhou Hanfang Modern Chinese Medicine Research and Development Co., Ltd., under GPHL.

At that time, the company lacked research talents, projects and facilities. Liu led her team in overcoming all of those difficulties, and, in 2007, the team established a national engineering center for the modernization of the TCM extraction and separation process. The center was the only key technological platform for the modernization and industrialization of TCM extraction and separation in China at that time. In 2022, the center passed the assessment of the National Development and Reform Commission, and it was renamed the National Engineering Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine Pharmaceutical Process Technology and New Drug Innovation.

"The most difficult task for us is applying the technologies of other industries within the TCM industry," says Liu. She has led her team in making breakthroughs in core technological research. The team has used various extraction and separation technologies, and the technologies have helped modernize the production of liposome materials used in TCM products.

Helping TCM Flourish in New Era

Cultivating Talents 

In 2005, Liu was appointed chief engineer and head of GPHL's postdoctoral research station. Under her leadership, GPHL's research team has developed many products, which have had excellent clinical effects, high technological level and big sales revenue. The team has taken the lead in building the scientific and technological innovation system.

Liu has helped GPHL become the leader of a strategic alliance dedicated to technological innovation of well-known, high-quality TCM products. The alliance has 22 members, including Peking University, Tsinghua University, and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.

Given Liu's unremitting efforts, GPHL has established a unique innovative-talent system. Now, the company has an expert team, composed of academicians in Chinese medicine, a key common-technology research and development team, and a team responsible for industrialization of research results. The company also has two national-level postdoctoral research stations and several provincial- and municipal-level postdoctoral innovation centers.

Revitalizing Time-Honored Brands 

"We should use modern concepts, modes and research approaches to promote the development, innovation and application of TCM," Liu says. She and her team have conducted in-depth research and development to improve the effects of various medicines. Their efforts have brought new vitality to many famous TCM products. For example, the team enhanced the clinical value of a time-honored TCM product that helps prevent miscarriage. Sales revenues of the medicine reached 500 million yuan (US $70.4 million) in 2022. Now, GPHL owns 30 major products, each with sales in excess of 100 million yuan (US $14.1 million). In 2021, GPHL became the first TCM company on the Fortune Global 500 list.

Helping TCM Flourish in New Era

Stories of TCM Culture

Guangdong boasts a profound TCM history and culture. Liu has led GPHL in building high-level research platforms, and in conducting key research projects. The platforms and projects have contributed to the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. 

The GPHL has promoted TCM culture throughout the world. Its Shennong Caotang Museum is one of China's key national cultural export projects. Export revenues of GPHL's Wanglaoji herbal tea (red can version) now exceeds 300 million yuan (US $42.9 million). Wanglaoji herbal tea museums have been established in several countries by GPHL, to promote TCM and herbal tea culture. 

Given her outstanding achievements, Liu has won several awards and titles, including National March 8th Red-Banner Pacesetter and the grand prize for individuals of the 13th Invention and Entrepreneurship Award (by the China Association of Inventions). She has also been named an "individual making outstanding contributions to the construction of modern TCM industrial base" (by the Ministry of Science and Technology). 

Liu says she will remain true to her original aspiration, and she will endeavor to make greater achievements while boosting the development of the TCM industry in the new era.


Photos from Interviewee

(Women of China English Monthly May 2024)

Editor: Wang Shasha


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