AUSTIN, Texas (November 14, 2022) — American Botanical Council (ABC) Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal was recently 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 on August 28, 2022, 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. During the award ceremony, Rollinger called Blumenthal “an advocate for herbal medicine,” and pointed to his numerous books, book chapters, scientific articles, colorful presentations, and media interviews, making him “one of the most respected people in the US medicinal plant community.”
The award also honors Blumenthal’s efforts to bring together people with interest in medicinal plants from around the world, and especially his involvement with colleagues from Europe. He has participated in many of the GA’s meetings dating back to the 1999 International Congress on Natural Products Research, a joint meeting with the American Society of Pharmacognosy (ASP), the French Association for Education and Research in Pharmacognosy (AFERP), and the Phytochemical Society of Europe (PSE), in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In 2019, he co-organized a pre-conference workshop on Economic Adulteration of Botanical Ingredients in Innsbruck, Austria, ahead of the 67th International Congress and Annual Meeting of the GA, which was attended by approximately 60 participants from 23 countries.
“I am profoundly grateful and humbled that the leadership of the GA has chosen to include me with this unexpected but very much appreciated honor,” said Blumenthal. “In essence, this award is actually the GA’s recognition of the extensive research and educational work of ABC during its 34 years of nonprofit activity. The GA’s making me an honorary member 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 towards furthering ABC’s unique nonprofit research and educational mission.”GA Vice President Michael Heinrich, PhD, a professor of ethnopharmacology and pharmacognosy at the University College London (London, UK), 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 the academic discourse, to have a real impact [in] the USA 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, only 36 scientists and educators have been given the honorary membership of the GA, including prominent researchers such as legendary Swiss natural products chemist Albert Hoffmann, 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. (Prof. 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 Judith 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 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 plants 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.