Hong Kong will have another batch of Chinese medicine graduates in 2003 as the result of a full-time degree programme to be introduced by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CU) next year. CU aims to run the course to break down the barriers between Chinese and Western medicine practitioners. Leung Ping-chung, Professor of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, told Campus Post that CU had the advantage of being able to fall back on the support of its faculties of science and medicine to help achieve standardisation in Chinese medicine. 'The marriage and combination of Western and Chinese medicine has become a trend since there is a significant contribution to the treat ment of various forms of hepatitis, high blood pressure, cancers and diabetes,' he said. Professor Leung cited some reasons for the lack of collaboration between practitioners of Western and Chinese medicine. 'Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners are not willing to share their experience with Western medicine practitioners because they are worried their expertise may be challenged,' he said. 'If we can develop full evidence-based data and integrate Western technology, medicines and research methods to advance the practice of Chinese medicine successfully, I am sure it will help to achieve a breakthrough in Chinese medicine in the SAR.' Professor Leung said Hong Kong could become a centre of excellence in Chinese medicine with the use of Western technology to assess the properties of plants and herbs. The CU programme will be offered under the Faculty of Science with 15 initial places available on the four- year full-time course via the Joint University Programmes Admissions System. Professor Leung said students would start conducting clinical practice from the second half of their second year at either the Kwong Wah Hospital or Guangzhou Chinese Medicine University. This would continue through their third and fourth years. They would also be required to complete at least six months internship at the Guangzhou university on graduation. CU's Chinese Medicinal Material Research Centre, which has been established for 30 years, will contribute to the course. Professor Leung said next year would be an ideal time for CU to open the course. The registration system for practitioners of Chinese medicine would be undergoing the legislative process early next year, he said. Applications for funding were being made to the University Grants Committee and other organisations to build an institute for Chinese medicine. Prominent lecturers and professors would be recruited along with experienced Chinese medicine practitioners from Hong Kong and the mainland.