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Building #20, College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University, 1 Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul 151-742, Korea

Tel: +82-2-880-2455, Fax: +82-2-762-8322



On Dec. 27, 1939, Natural Products Research Institute was founded as an affiliate of Kyungsung Imperial University in Kaesung Branch. The original institute was established to study Chinese medicinal resources in Manchuria, China and the Korean peninsula. With the liberation in 1945, Seoul National University was founded through amalgamation of Kyungsung Imperial University. The institute marked the first research institute of Seoul National University. The research institute was later renamed as the Natural Products Research Institute in 1992. Under the Research and Development of New Drugs Originated from Natural Products Act, the institute was designated as the National Center for Research and Development of New Drugs Originated from Natural Products from the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Korea. In 2001, the institute was merged with the College of Pharmacy. In 2008, the institute was relocated to pharmacy building #20 in Gwanak campus.


As of 2004, a total of 122 persons are involved in the institute; 7 faculties and 5 research fellows participate in the institute. The institute consists of four research divisions: Natural Product Chemistry, Natural Products Resources, Biological Activity Research and Industrial Technology Cooperation.

Division of Natural Products Chemistry

The division focuses on the isolation, purification and structural elucidation of natural products. Particularly, the division is interested in a number of important classes of compounds including terpenoids, alkaloids, flavonoids. In addition to the isolation and structural determination of new drugs from natural products, the quality control issue for herbal drugs is one of the primary research interests of the division.

Division of Biological Function of Natural Products

The primary function of the division is to characterize biological activities, both in in vitro and in vivo, of natural products. In particular, the division is interested in the studies of pharmacodynamics and metabolism of natural products in human. The class of drugs of the primary interests includes agents with anti-cancer/virus, anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombotic, and anti-obesity activities as well as drugs for cardiovascular system and central nervous system.

Division of Natural Products Resources

The division is primarily interested in the production of natural products by plant tissue and cell culture techniques. The division is also focused on the studies on herbal materials using molecular taxonomy techniques. In addition, recent research activities of the division include the investigation on the distribution of natural products resources and operation of economic plants experimental station.

Division of Natural Products Informatics

The primary goal of the division is to integrate pharmacological properties of natural products, their chemical structures and information on the originating plant by modern computer technology. As a result, the division is primarily responsible for the establishment and management of TradiMed database for future reference of natural products.

International Collaboration

The institute has been interested in the contribution to the international community through cooperative scientific activities with various international organizations on the subjects of traditional medicine and natural product sciences 

WHO Collaborating Center for Traditional Medicine

As part of collaborating research activities on traditional medicine, the institute was designated as a WHO Collaborating Center in 1988. The institute has since contributed to the promotion of health of mankind through the utilization of traditional medicines. The primary goal of the center is to promote collaboration of natural products researches by workshops and seminars.

UNESCO Regional Research Center for the Chemistry of Natural Products in Southeast Asia

In order to enhance public welfare around the world, UNESCO has supported research programs for wider uses of natural products. As a Regional Research Center, the institute offers long and short-term training programs and workshops for natural products chemists in southeast Asia.

Korea-China Collaboration Center for Traditional Oriental Medicine Research Korea and China share a similar history of traditional medicines. The center serves as the window for the cooperative researches on traditional medicines in both countries, and is a part of the international activities of the project entitled 

“New Korean Drugs Development Project”.


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