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Medicinal Plant Pioneer
Farnsworth To Give NCCAM Lecture

Throughout human history, plants and plant-derived chemicals have been used for medicinal purposes — an early example being morphine and more recently taxol, camptothecin, vinblastine and vincristine. Yet relatively little scientific research, in industry, has been conducted to discover new drugs and to evaluate the efficacy of drugs and dietary supplements derived from natural sources. Only in the last 10 years, as public interest in herbal medicines and dietary supplements has skyrocketed, has the United States begun to invest in scientifically rigorous natural product research.


Dr. Norman Farnsworth
On Wednesday, Oct. 22, members of the NIH community and the public will have an opportunity to hear Dr. Norman R. Farnsworth, an internationally renowned scholar and pioneer in the field of pharmacognosy — medicinal plant research and herbal medicines. He will speak on "Herbal Medicine: Ancient Practice Meets Modern Science," as the second lecturer hosted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2003 for its Distinguished Lectures in the Science of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Farnsworth is director of the Program for Collaborative Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at Chicago, and is director of the UIC/NIH Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research. The talk will take place at noon in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10.

Author of more than 500 original research papers and review articles in the field of natural products, Farnsworth has assembled the largest and most active academic pharmacognosy research group in the U.S. In 1975, he established NAPRALERT, the world's largest relational database on natural products that provides information on the chemistry, pharmacology and traditional uses of medicinal plants, fungi, microorganisms and marine organisms. This system is available online and is a valued resource for research institutions, the pharmaceutical and supplement industries and conservation groups. Recipient of three honorary doctorates and three honorary professorships, he received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. He has been a member of the World Health Organization expert advisory panel on traditional medicine since 1983. He recently served on the Presidential Commission on Dietary Supplement Labels and has been named senior research scholar and university distinguished professor at UIC.

Farnsworth will discuss basic and clinical research now being conducted on many of the most important botanical drugs and dietary supplements, as well as continuing opportunities for developing new drugs and dietary supplements from botanical sources. He will provide evidence of progress in developing chemically and biologically standardized plant extracts. The lecture will cover plant collection, identification, isolation of active ingredients by bioassay-directed fractionation, and the study of metabolism and safety through phase I and the beginning of phase II clinical trials using plant extracts.

All are invited to attend. The lecture will also be webcast on http://videocast.nih.gov. For reasonable accommodation, contact Eugene Marquis at 402-9686, or the Federal Relay at 1-800-877-8339. For lecture information, contact nccamlecture@matthewsgroup.com or visit http://www.nccam.nih.gov/.


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