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ABC's Mark Blumenthal Receives Varro E. Tyler Prize from ASP

Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council (ABC), received the American Society of Pharmacognosy’s (ASP) Varro E. Tyler Prize during the 51st meeting of ASP, held July 10–14, 2010, in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida.

Founded in 1959, ASP is dedicated to the promotion, growth, and development of pharmacognosy and all aspects of science related to natural products. ASP awards its Tyler Prize each year to someone who has made a significant contribution to medicinal plant research, education, and/or advocacy for plant-based medicines.

According to the Varro E. Tyler Prize Committee, the award was given to Blumenthal because of his long, dedicated service to the botanical supplement/phytomedicine community, effective leadership of ABC, and his commitment to the development and dissemination of accurate information about the safety and benefits of botanicals. In addition, the selection committee noted that Blumenthal’s vision for and leadership of ABC is a strong reflection of the style and approach of Professor Tyler.

The award is named after the late Varro E. Tyler, PhD, ScD, former dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and vice-president of Academic Affairs at Purdue University. Professor Tyler was a leading authority in science-based botanical remedies, including both plant-derived pharmaceutical drugs and herbal dietary supplements. He was the senior author of several editions of the leading textbook on pharmacognosy (the study of drugs of natural origin) and the author of numerous other professional and popular books and hundreds of articles. He was also a Trustee of ABC.

“I am deeply grateful and humbled to have been chosen by ASP to receive the Tyler Prize,” said Blumenthal. “Tip—his nickname he allowed his friends and close colleagues to call him—was a deeply influential mentor in my professional life. He taught me much about the need to keep seeking for evidence of the safety and efficacy of herbal medicines.”

Blumenthal has over 36 years of experience with herbs and medicinal plants, initially as an entrepreneur in the herbal industry in the 1970s and 1980s. For the past 23 years, he has served as an advocate for research and science-based education in the area of plant-based medicines and dietary supplements. Blumenthal has authored hundreds of articles and reviews and is the editor and publisher of ABC’s peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram.

“Through the activities of the American Botanical Council, which Mark founded, his mission and goals were to further educate the public (and hopefully scientists in the area of natural products) to the benefits of herbal supplements through extensive writings in this area and also through his hundreds of lectures throughout the USA and abroad,” said Norman Farnsworth, PhD, distinguished professor and research professor of Pharmacognosy at the University of Illinois at Chicago (e-mail, June 17, 2010). “Tip Tyler would have been proud that Mark Blumenthal has been awarded this prestigious award, and I offer my sincere congratulations.”

“Mark and Tip were good friends, and I know that Tip would be very pleased that Mark is receiving the ASP Tyler Award—I am, too,” said Ginny Tyler, wife of the late Professor Tyler (e-mail, June 17, 2010). “Mark has done a wonderful job with his HerbalGram magazine, which is full of information about herbs.”

Blumenthal is a frequent speaker at national and international professional and industry conferences about herbal medicine. He previously served as an adjunct associate professor of medicinal chemistry at the College of Pharmacy at the University of Texas at Austin for 6 years, teaching a course on herbal products to pharmacy students. Before starting ABC in 1988, he served as co-founder and former vice-president of the Herb Research Foundation (HRF), president of the Herb Trade Association, and was a founding board member of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA).

Blumenthal is the senior editor of the English translation of The Complete German Commission E Monographs—Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines (1998), as well as a follow-up book, Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs (2000). He is also senior editor of The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs (2003), a reference book for health professionals. Blumenthal credits Professor Tyler as the primary motivator for him to translate, compile, edit, and publish the German Commission E Monographs, which are considered some of the most reliable information on herbs in the world. Blumenthal also replaced Professor Tyler as English editor of Rational Phytotherapy: A Reference Guide for Physicians and Pharmacists, 5th edition (Springer, 2004), when Dr. Tyler died in 2001.

Blumenthal has previously received Natural Health Magazine’s Hall of Fame Award, the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s Apple Award, and a LifeTime Achievement Award from Nutrition Business Journal.

—Kelly E. Lindner