S21: Natural Health Product Research:  The Next Frontier

Heather Boon1, David Eisenberg2, Susan Murch3, Richard van Breemen4

1Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, Canada; 2Harvard Medical School, USA; 3University of British Columbia (Okanagan Campus), Canada; 4Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy University of Illinois at Chicago, USA


Natural product research is a very diverse field that draws investigators from a wide range of disciplines.  This session will showcase innovative approaches to natural product research that are intended to stimulate discussion and debate.  Dr. David Eisenberg will describe his collaborative project to establish a prototype of an authenticated medicinal plant library including why this approach is necessary and some the challenges faced in doing so. Dr. Susan Murch will explain how her team is using metabolomics  (the detection and quantification of all of the small molecules in a biological sample) to discover new plant chemicals and identify new ways of producing specific chemical compounds in medicinal plants, food crops, wine grapes and endangered species.  In addition, Dr. Richard  van Breemen will use examples to show how approaches such as high throughput analysis and proteomics are providing new insights into the safety and efficacy of natural health products.  Each speaker will highlight the innovations that have been made and the challenges that remain.  The session will conclude with a discussion period where the audience is encouraged to reflect on the diverse presentations and consider how these new technologies are impacting the future of natural product research.      This session is being dedicated to the memory of Dr. Norman R. Farnsworth (1930-2011).  Norman R. Farnsworth was a UIC Distinguished Professor, Senior University Scholar and Research Professor of Pharmacognosy in the College of Pharmacy. He had been a faculty member since 1970 and served as Head of the Department of Pharmacognosy and Pharmacology from 1970-1982. In l982 he assumed the position as Director of the Program for Collaborative Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences. He was Director of the UIC/NIH Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research. He served on numerous committees in the University, including several years as a member of the Senate Executive Committee. His research had been extensively funded from NIH, NSF, WHO, USDA, industry and private foundations, leading to more than 500 scientific publications and reviews. In 2005, he was awarded the "Research Achievement Award" from the American Society of Pharmacognosy. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and was the recipient of three honorary doctorates and three honorary professorships in this country and abroad.  (source:http://tigger.uic.edu/htbin/codewrap/bin/pharmacy/cgi-bin/centers/uic_nih_botanical_dietary_supplement_research/Brief_Resume_NRF.php)