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ABC’s Mark Blumenthal Awarded Honorary Membership by the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research


In August 2022, American Botanical Council (ABC) Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal was granted honorary membership from the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research, better known as the GA (the acronym for its German name Gesellschaft für Arzneipflanzenforschung). The honor was announced by GA President Judith Rollinger, PhD, professor of pharmacognosy in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Vienna.

The GA granted honorary membership to Blumenthal for his tireless work to educate members of the international natural products research community about the safety, efficacy, and quality of herbal medicines. In the ceremony, Rollinger called Blumenthal “an advocate for herbal medicine” and pointed to his numerous books, book chapters, scientific articles, presentations, and media interviews, making him “one of the most respected people in the US medicinal plant community.”

The honor also acknowledges Blumenthal’s efforts to bring together, from around the world, people with a common interest in medicinal plants, and especially his involvement with colleagues from Europe. He has participated in many of the GA’s meetings dating back to the 2004 International Congress on Natural Products Research, a joint meeting of the American Society of Pharmacognosy (ASP), Association Francophone pour l’Enseignement et la Recherche en Pharmacognosie (AFERP), and the Phytochemical Society of Europe (PSE), in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2019, he co-organized a pre-conference workshop on Economic Adulteration of Botanical Ingredients in Innsbruck, Austria, which took place ahead of the 67th International Congress and Annual Meeting of the GA and was attended by approximately 60 participants from 23 countries.

“I am profoundly grateful and humbled that the leadership of the GA has chosen to [recognize] me with this unexpected and very much appreciated honor,” said Blumenthal. “In essence, this award is the GA’s recognition of the extensive research and educational work of ABC during its 34 years of nonprofit activity. This honorary membership illustrates the global nature of scientific research into medicinal plants. I share this recognition with all the staff of ABC, past and present, who have worked toward furthering ABC’s unique nonprofit research and educational mission.”

GA Vice President Michael Heinrich, PhD, a professor of ethnopharmacology and pharmacognosy at University College London, praised Blumenthal’s achievements. Heinrich wrote: “Honoring Mark Blumenthal with an honorary membership is an honor for both. We at the GA admire his dedication, his enthusiasm, and the outcomes of his and ABC’s activities. [We need] unique personalities like Mark to take this field forward beyond academic discourse, in order to have a real impact [in] the US but also well beyond. Our best wishes go to him, ABC, and all associated with it, for a healthy future with a positive impact on what he calls botanicals and what we call herbal medicines.”  

To date, the GA has given honorary membership to 36 scientists and educators, including prominent researchers such as legendary Swiss natural products chemist Albert Hofmann, PhD, German chemist and “father of thin-layer chromatography” Egon Stahl, PhD, and Swiss botanist, phytochemist, and pharmacognosist Robert Hegnauer, PhD. Blumenthal is the second person from the United States to receive this honor after renowned pharmacognosy professor and textbook author Varro E. Tyler, PhD, in 1994. Tyler was an early member of ABC’s Board of Trustees and one of Blumenthal’s scientific mentors.

Other new GA honorary members in 2022 are Judit Hohmann, PhD, professor of pharmacognosy at the University of Szeged, Hungary; Giovanni Appendino, PhD, professor of chemistry at the University of Eastern Piedmont in Novara, Italy; and Matthias Hamburger, PhD, professor of pharmaceutical biology at the University of Basel, Switzerland.

About the GA

Founded in 1953 in Camberg, Germany, the GA is one of the largest organizations worldwide to connect people who are dedicated to all aspects of natural product research from academia, industry, and regulatory agencies. The organization fosters basic and applied research in various fields of medicinal plant and natural product research, including pharmacognosy and natural products chemistry, biological activities of medicinal plants and their constituents, phytotherapy, animal health care, horticulture, and formulation and delivery systems, among others.