Chinese Researchers Visit Lehman College To Study Medicinal Use of Plants

December 13, 2011 | Lehman College

BRONX, NY—Students from Minzu University in Beijing, China are once again visiting Lehman College to take part in an ethnobiology study sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Education. The initiative, called ‘111 Project,’ examines how minority groups in China use medicinal plants.

“We have worked together for almost five years now on this project,” said Dr. Edward Kennelly of the Lehman Biological Sciences Department, whose research focuses largely in this particular area. “Researchers from CUNY, including our master’s and doctoral students, have gone to China, while researchers from Minzu University have come to CUNY.” This is the second year that Lehman has hosted Minzu University students.

Inner Mongolia resident Wurihan Fnu is working on the chemical fingerprint of the Radix Astragali (Huangqi) species, the root of which has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as an immune system booster. Huang Wen, from FuJian Province in southern China, is studying Striga asiatica, which has been used traditionally to treat sores and ulcers.

“This is an unforgettable experience in my life, during which I make friends with people having a totally different culture,” said Fnu, who hopes to pursue a career in environmental science. “Working with Dr. Kennelly and the members of our lab is the best gift for me. The laboratory is a modern phytochemical research facility and contains the equipment and instruments I need to conduct my research.”

“Lehman College is more beautiful than the pictures from the Internet,” said Huang Wen. “All the members of Dr. Kennelly’s lab are very friendly.” Wen plans to work in the field of ethnobotany.

The partnership between CUNY and Minzu University was formed after CUNY doctoral student Selena Ahmed, who was working in China on a tea project, contacted researchers at Minzu University about Dr. Kennelly’s research on medicinal plants. Dr. Kennelly and CUNY doctoral student Adam Negrin traveled to Inner Mongolia with researchers from Minzu University last summer to collect samples of Radix Astragali.

Fnu and Wen will return to Beijing at the end of this month to continue work on this research project, which is headed by Minzu University Professor Chunlin Long. They will be joined by Dr. Kennelly. “One great success of the project has been the ability for CUNY and Minzu students to experience scientific research in both countries,” said Dr. Kennelly. “Minzu has expertise in minority groups and ethnobotany, but limited analytical equipment. Our lab has state-of-the-art analytical equipment.”

Last month Dr. Kennelly was recognized as a leading expert in his field when the Federal Drug Administration commended his work as a member of its Advisory Committee for botanical dietary supplements. “It was great to receive the award,” he says, “and it’s also a great honor to serve the FDA in this capacity.”

Contact: Keisha-Gaye Anderson / 718-960-8013 / keishagaye.anderson@lehman.cuny.edu