High-Tech and tradition - Graz establishes inter-
universitary research center for Traditional Chinese Medicine

From left: Painless laserneedle acupuncture at the Medical University of Graz, Chinese medical herbs, Rudolf Bauer, Gerhard Litscher

From acupuncture to the many hundred different medical herbs – Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is booming. And it is effective: TCM has been practised successfully for more than 4000 years, and the Western demand for something to complement classical Western medicine has been increasing for years. Graz is to play a central role in TCM research in future: the „TCM Research Center“ was founded in early March 2007, and subsequently a competence center that is unique worldwide should come into being and then pool the numerous national and international activities in the fields of research and teaching. With the Karl-Franzens-University Graz and the Medical University Graz there are two universities in a leading position.

Dealing with acupuncture and chinese medical herbs has a long tradition in Graz: Prof. Rudolf Bauer, head of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Karl-Franzens-University, has been researching the active pharmaceutical ingredients and quality of Chinese medical herbs for 15 years. Prof. Gerhard Litscher, head of the Research Unit of Biomedical Engineering in Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at the Medical University of Graz, has dedicated himself to the research of acupuncture using the latest high-tech methods. For both scientific work is the basis for further research: „TCM is a kind of medicine that can be evaluated scientifically“, says Rudolf Bauer, „it possesses comprehensible diagnostic methods and uses precise and controllable therapies.“ So, all research work is done based on scientific methods. Gerhard Litscher: „We are interested in basic research and those aspects of TCM that have not been given much attention so far, for example the objectivation of new acupuncture techniques such as the painless laserneedle acupuncture and electroacupuncture. Possible effects of acupuncture in combination with other methods are also subject to scientific research.“

The importance of TCM has been strongly increasing over the last few years. About 70 % of the Austrians want classical Western medicine to be complemented by complementary medicine. TCM is accepted by a remarkable 80 % of the population. But not only laymen, doctors also are increasingly interested. The Medical University of Graz offers deepened education in a special study module (Medical herbs and other ways of therapy in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM); module coordinator: Dr. Andrea Pribyl, Chinese Medical Herbs, Austrian Society of Acupuncture).

The establishing of the competence center could have lasting positive effects fort he position of Graz as a place of research: „We want to extend existing co-operations with other institutions doing research in the field of TCM and intensify the know-how-transfer between Austria and China “, says Gerhard Litscher. For the first phase of this project the Styrian government (Zukunftsfonds) has granted 300.000 Euro. And the chances are good that the federal government adds something to that, as TCM is laid down in the new government program.


Gudrun Pichler