The Analytical Scientist recently announced The Power List 2020: Around the World in 60 Scientists. Prof Li Shaoping, deputy director of the State Key Laboratory for Quality Research in Chinese Medicine at the University of Macau (UM), has entered the list for his outstanding contributions to the study of herbal glycoanalysis and the development of quality control methods for Chinese medicines. Prof Li is the first expert in quality control of Chinese medicines to enter the list since its publication in 2013. Scientists are selected through a global nomination and selection process.

Prof Li specialises in quality control and active ingredient research in traditional Chinese medicine. He is the author of Pharmacological Activity-based Quality Control of Chinese Herbs, which is the world’s first English book on this subject. He has played a pivotal role in the establishment of a joint laboratory between UM and the United States Pharmacopoeia Convention (USPC) for the development of quality standards for Chinese medicines. It is the first joint laboratory established between a university and the USPC. He and his research team conduct research on the challenges and key issues in the development of international quality standards for Chinese medicines. Based on these studies, they have proposed new strategies for quality control of Chinese medicines, which are not only practical but also meet the requirements of international quality standards. The six Chinese medicine standards established have been recognised by USP and have won numerous awards.

Prof Li’s team has established a qualitative and quantitative analysis method for polysaccharides, known as the ‘Saccharide Mapping’ method, based on the material basis characteristics of traditional Chinese medicine decoction. This method has received a number of national invention patents. The related papers have won a first prize at the Shimadzu Cup National Excellent Paper Award in Pharmaceutical Analysis and a first prize in the excellent paper category from the Chinese Pharmaceutical Association, for presenting a solution to a long-standing bottleneck in the development and production of carbohydrate drugs. In addition, the patented technology, ‘saccharide mapping’, has been successfully used in the quality evaluation of Ganoderma lucidum dietary supplements in the US, which has attracted considerable attention from related industries.

Prof Li is currently an editor of the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, the associate editor-in-chief of the Chinese Journal of Pharmaceutical Analysis, a member of the editorial boards of several top international academic journals in drug analysis, traditional Chinese medicine, and functional food, as well as a council member of the China Pharmaceutical Association and the vice chairman of the association’s Pharmaceutical Analysis Professional Committee.

Prof Li has headed several major scientific research projects, including the National Key R & D Programme (to replace the original 973 Programme and 863 Programme), the Key R & D Funding Programme of the Macao Science and Technology Development Fund, the Key Special Project on the ‘Modernisation of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Lingnan’ of Guangdong Province, and the Joint Research Fund for Overseas Chinese Scholars and Scholars in Hong Kong and Macao of the National Natural Science Foundation of China. Prof Li is also a three-time winner of the Macao Science and Technology Award. The inclusion of him in the Power List 2020 signifies international recognition of research in traditional Chinese medicine.

The project was funded by the Science and Technology Development Fund, Macao SAR (file number: 074/2016/A2, 0075/2018/A2, 0017/2019/AKP), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (file number: 8167338), UM (file number: YRG2018-00083-ICMS, CPG2020-00021-ICMS), Guangzhou government’s Special Fund for Scientific and Technological Innovation (file number: 201807010051), and Guangdong R&D Programme for Key Research Fields (file number: 2020B1111110006).