Prof. Robert Ko is a Professor in the Division of Life Science at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST). After graduating from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, he went on to Canada and obtained his Ph.D. in pharmacology at the University of British Columbia in 1990. Since then Prof. Ko returned to Hong Kong to pursue his research work on Chinese herbal medicine at HKUST. Prof. Ko is known for applying molecular and cell biology technique to the study of Chinese tonic herbs, with the focus on antioxidant and immunomodulatory actions. Prof. Ko has so far received over 23 million (HK) funding and his research output has been published in both pharmacological and Chinese medicine journals. Prof. Ko’s latest research interest is antioxidant mechanism(s) of Chinese tonic herbs with focus on the regulation of cellular glutathione redox status. The investigation of pharmacological basis of Yang/Qi-invigoration in Chinese medicine is his other research expertise. Prof. Ko has so far edited three books and published more than 200 scientific papers and book chapters on related topics. Prof. Ko is also a pioneer in developing proprietary Chinese herb-based health products and skincare products in Hong Kong. In this connection, he has been granted 3 US Patents and 1 European Patents. Prof. Ko served in the Chinese Medicines Board of the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong from 1999-2005.
Chinese Medicine and Modern Medicine belong to two distinct medical systems, and yet both medical practices aim at the prevention and/or treatment of human diseases. With this in mind, we should be able to understand the basic theories underlying the practice of Chinese Medicine (such as Yin and Yang; Five Element; Qi and Blood), at least to a certain extent, in the context of Modern Medicine. In this regard, the investigation of pharmacological basis of Chinese tonifying herbs (those for preventive health) is instrumental to bridge the knowledge gap between Chinese Medicine and Modern Medicine.
Relevant pharmacological assays are developed for investigating the pharmacological activities of Yin, Yang, Qi and Blood Chinese tonifying herbs. In addition to establishing the pharmacological basis of these tonifying actions in Chinese Medicine, the assays are also used to investigate the tropic property of herbs in accordance with the Meridian Theory.
- Chen J, Wong HS, Leung HY, Leong PK, Chan WM, Chen N, Ko KM: An ursolic acid-enriched extract of Cynomorium songaricum protects against carbon tetrachloride hepatotoxicity and gentamicin nephrotoxicity in rats possibly through a mitochondrial pathway: A comparison with ursolic acid. J. Funct. Foods 2014; 7: 330-41.
- Chen J, Wong HS, Leung HY, Leong PK, Chan WM, Ko KM: An ursolic acid-enriched Cynomorium songarium extract attenuates high fat diet-induced obesity in mice possibly through mitochondrial uncoupling. J. Funct. Foods 2014; 9: 211-24.
- Wong HS, Chen J, Leong PK, Leung HY, Chan WM, Ko KM: Cistanches Herba reduces the weight gain in high fat diet-induced obese mice possibly through mitochondrial uncoupling. J. Funct. Foods 2014; 10: 292-304.
- Wong HS, Leong PK, Chen J, Leung HY, Chan WM, Ko KM: β-Sitosterol increases mitochondrial electron transport by fluidizing mitochondrial membranes and enhances mitochondrial responsiveness to increasing energy demand by the induction of uncoupling in C2C12 myotubes. J. Funct. Foods 2016; 23: 253-260.
- Chen J, Wong HS, Leong PK, Leung HY, Chan WM, Ko KM: Ursolic acid induces mitochondrial biogenesis through the activation of AMPK and PGC-1 in C2C12 myotubes: A possible mechanism underlying its beneficial effect on exercise endurance. Food & Funct. 2017; 8: 2425-2436.