Academic and Clinical training:

After completing 6 years of medical education and being awarded a doctor’s degree in 1995 in Korea, Dr. Agnes Ryu began her career as an internist in a teaching hospital where she managed complex, chronic diseases with end-stage metabolic consequences. Her initial training focused on brain imaging and neuro-rehabilitation. Having focused on her work on organ-centred, tissue-specific pathophysiology, she became increasingly concerned with the totality of the patient and the intricate connectivity of the whole system. 


Research career: ‘Bedside to Bench’


Biochemistry Agnes Ryu

Biochemistry Department, Natural Product Research Institute, College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University

The mid 90’s saw a worldwide impetus for the modernization and scientific evaluation of traditional medicine practice and research. Technical developments enabled a new approach to research and scientific evaluation of traditional medicine. An example illustrating this has been the use of functional MRI scans to enable the brain-mapping, real-time elucidation of the effects of acupuncture treatment on brain physiology.

Modern screening techniques and methodology in natural products science and chemical analysis have enabled a glimpse into the rationale and mechanisms of the action of traditional compound formulations. There have also been great initiatives to discover new drug leads using established traditional medicine

The Natural Product Research Institute is a research centre specializing in the field of natural products science. It is a World Health Organization (WHO) and UNESCO affiliated research centre of traditional medicine frequented by world academics where knowledge is exchanged and expanded. Dr. Agnes worked in the multi-disciplinary team involved in the development of new analytical monographs of herbal drugs for quality proofing, in defining the chemical structure of key compounds and exploring the new physiological activity of the elements in order to develop new drugs.

Agnes and her team assayed a large number of potential biological modulators against a set of defined targets. Her research focused on the following themes:

  • Free radical scavenging anti-oxidative effects of various natural compounds
  • Effects on Inflammatory cascade
  • Immunomodulatory properties
  • Stress response regulation of HPA axis
  • Anti-cancer, anti-tumour effects: angiogenesis, immune modulation, programmed cell death (apoptosis)
  • Anti-diabetic effect: antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-glycating activities, inhibition of aldose reductase, platelet aggregation
  • Toxicological assessment of various natural products


Dr. Agnes Ryu studied the impact of numerous pharmaceutical and natural products on the biochemical pathways and their biological efficacies

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