The American Botanical Council (ABC) welcomes 13 new expert members to its Advisory Board. The addition of these distinguished individuals, six of whom are from outside the United States, represents ABC’s continued goal of expanding its international relationships and educational impact. They join 127 existing members, including 32 international experts. The new members will bring their perspectives and experiences from numerous scientific fields related to the study of medicinal plants, including ethnobotany, pharmacognosy, phytotherapy, pharmacy, organic chemistry, biochemistry, natural products research, and more.
“We are deeply grateful to these highly qualified new members of the ABC Advisory Board for their willingness to engage formally with ABC and help us promote our nonprofit educational mission,” said Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of ABC. “These people constitute some of the leading experts in their respective fields, and their active association with ABC will help ensure the high-quality, accurate, and reliable educational information for which ABC is known.”
ABC Advisory Board members generously volunteer their time to peer review articles that appear in HerbalGram, HerbalEGram, HerbClips, and various other peer-reviewed ABC publications. Additionally, ABC management and HerbalGram editors seek feedback and advice from Advisory Board members on research questions, article ideas, ABC policies, and book reviews, among many other topics.
“One of the most exciting aspects of the work at ABC is to have this unique network of experts in the many aspects of botanical medicine available,” noted Stefan Gafner, PhD, ABC’s chief science officer. “The breadth of knowledge that the new members will bring to ABC is extraordinary, and I am looking forward to a closer interaction with this talented group of individuals with expertise in traditional use, clinical studies, molecular biology, formulation, chemical analysis, and regulatory aspects of medicinal plants.”
The newest ABC Advisory Board members are the following:
Valerie Assinewe, PhD, has consulted on projects for the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee, a branch of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Fluent in English, French, and Ojibwa, Dr. Assinewe conducts research on indigenous plants with traditional uses in Canada, including cherry birch (Betula lenta, Betulaceae), American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius, Araliaceae), and eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus, Araliaceae). She previously worked at Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate for 10 years, developing monographs and labeling standards for natural health products and reviewing product license applications to determine safety and efficacy. She has given many presentations about the role of First Nation traditional knowledge in pharmacology and biology, and her articles have been published in a number of journals including Phytochemistry, Biodiversity, and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Dr. Assinewe is a member of the Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation.
Alan Bensoussan, PhD, DipAc, is the director of the University of Western Sydney’s Australian National Institute of Complementary Medicine. From 2008 to 2011, he was a member of the National Medicines Policy Committee, and from 2012 to 2014 he served as chair of the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Advisory Committee for Complementary Medicines. Dr. Bensoussan’s awards and accolades include the Complementary Medicines Australia’s (formerly the Complementary Healthcare Council of Australia) Lady Cilento Award (2014) and the International Award for Contribution to Chinese Medicine (2013), which is awarded by the Chinese government. An expert in traditional Chinese medicine, Dr. Bensoussan’s research and publications helped to establish Australia’s regulation of Chinese medicine practitioners. He is the author of two books, and his work has appeared in a number of respected journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Chantal Bergeron, PhD, is the manager of research and development for home and personal care products at Seventh Generation. Previously, Dr. Bergeron spent 13 years as director of research at Tom’s of Maine, where she developed novel plant-based materials for oral, body care, and self-care products. Her innovative work has led to the development of hops (Humulus lupulus, Cannabaceae) and olive (Olea europaea, Oleaceae) leaf extract as deodorant and antiperspirant ingredients. Dr. Bergeron attended graduate school at Laval University in Quebec City, Canada, and the University of Lausanne in Switzerland; her post-doctorate work was completed at the University of Ottawa. She has received four Technology Innovation Fund grants from Colgate-Palmolive, holds numerous patents, and has authored or co-authored 25 scientific papers. Bergeron is a member of American Society of Pharmacognosy and the Society for Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research (GA).
Nadja Cech, PhD, is an associate professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Greensboro. In 2001, Dr. Cech completed her PhD in analytical chemistry at the University of New Mexico, where she studied electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Her research at UNC Greensboro over the past 13 years has focused on the synergistic biological activities of components of botanical extracts and the development of analytical methods to address such complex interactions. These research efforts have been funded in part by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH; formerly the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine). Dr. Cech received the Jack L. Beal Award for Best Paper in the Journal of Natural Products by a Young Investigator in 2011, the UNC Greensboro Junior Research Excellence Award in 2010, and the UNC Greensboro College Teaching Award in 2008. To date, Dr. Cech has published more than 30 peer-reviewed scientific papers.
Zoë Gardner has served as the research and development manager for the herbal wellness tea company Traditional Medicinals since 2012. She completed a master’s degree and is finishing a doctoral program in plant and soil sciences — focusing on the cultivation, conservation, and quality of medicinal plants — at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Gardner served as the program coordinator and a research fellow for the University’s medicinal plant program from 2000 to 2006 and from 2007 to 2010, respectively. She has co-authored more than a dozen scientific journal articles and is the research editor of the American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook, 2nd ed., probably the most current and comprehensive review of the safety issues related to herbs and medicinal plants that are available in commerce in the United States.
Gabriel Giancaspro, PhD, is vice president of the Foods, Dietary Supplements, and Herbal Medicines Division of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). He earned his pharmacy degree and doctorate in medicinal chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires and spent 17 years teaching and researching medicinal chemistry, drug stability, and drug analysis at the University’s School of Pharmacy. Dr. Giancaspro has served in leadership positions for several companies — including Rigecin, Schwabe-Argentina, and Kampel-Martian — where he was responsible for regulatory affairs, analytical research and development, and quality control of herbal medicines. He joined USP in 1995 as a visiting scientist and later became the director for dietary supplements in USP’s Documentary Standards Division, the division charged with developing monographs for herbal dietary supplements. Dr. Giancaspro is a member of AOAC International and was an editorial board member of the Journal of AOAC International.
Joerg Gruenwald, PhD, is the founder and chief scientific advisor of Analyze & Realize GmbH in Berlin, Germany, a specialized research and consulting company for natural health products, phytomedicines, functional foods, dietary supplements, and other natural medicinal items. Previously, he served as co-founder and board member of InQpharm and chief scientific officer of Biotropics Malaysia. He has authored and edited 13 books, including Physician’s Desk Reference for Herbal Medicines, Plant-Based Ingredients for Functional Foods, and acted as a co-editor of the American Botanical Council’s The Complete German Commission E Monographs, as well as over 300 scientific articles. He has worked as advisor to the Office of Dietary Supplements at the US National Institutes of Health, is on the International Advisory Board of the Research Council for Complementary Medicine, was chairman of the American Herbal Products Association’s International Committee, and is a member of the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s Botanical/Quality Standards Committee and the USP’s Ad Hoc Group on Botanicals.
Pierre Selim Haddad, PhD, is director of the Natural Health Products and Metabolic Diseases Laboratory and director of the Research Team in Aboriginal Antidiabetic Medicines in the pharmacology department at the Université de Montréal in Quebec, Canada. He received his PhD in pharmacology from the Université de Montréal in 1986, after earning his bachelor’s degree in physiology from McGill University in 1981. In 1992, Dr. Haddad was the recipient of the Young Physiologist Award from the Association des Physiologistes. In 2014, he received the Natural Health Products Research Society’s Neil Towers “Pride of Burma” Award. He served as an expert policy advisor for Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate, as a research consultant and coordinator for the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation, and as an expert policy advisor for Environment Canada’s Office of Biodiversity. He has been a scientific advisory board member of the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research since 2009.
James Harnly, PhD, is an analytical chemist with expertise in atomic and molecular spectroscopy and more than 40 years of experience with industry and government organizations. Since 1997, he has served as the research leader for the Food Composition and Methods Development Laboratory at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center — a division of the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service — where he is developing new analytical methods for the identification of compounds in botanical products. To date, Dr. Harnly has authored more than 130 peer-reviewed papers, 18 technical reports and book chapters, and holds two patents. He was the editor of the Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry for 22 years, and is a member of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy, American Society for Nutrition, American Society for Mass Spectrometry, and AOAC International, for which he served as board president from 2013 to 2014.
Michael Heinrich, Dr. rer. nat. habil, MA, Dipl. Biol, FLS, is a pharmaceutical biologist/pharmacognosist and anthropologist with multidisciplinary research interests including medicinal and food plant research, particularly bioactive natural products, as well as the interface of cultural and natural sciences on the traditional use of food and medicinal plants, primarily in Mexico and the Mediterranean. He currently is the head of the Biodiversity and Medicines research cluster and professor at the University College London’s School of Pharmacy in the United Kingdom. He is also the editor-in-chief of Frontiers in Ethnopharmacology, reviews editor for the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, and a member of the editorial board for a wide range of journals in the area of medicinal plant research. Previously, he was the founding director of the Southern Cross Plant Science Program at Southern Cross University in Lismore, Australia. He is also the co-author or editor of six books, including the second edition of Fundamentals of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacy: An Evidence-Based Guide to Herbal Medicinal Products (April 2015).
Andrea Ottesen, PhD, is the research area coordinator for metagenomics in the Molecular Methods and Subtyping Branch of the Division of Microbiology at the US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, focusing on microbial ecology and metagenomics of high-risk crops. She is also an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture at the University of Maryland and spent many years as a botanical research technician at the Jim Duke Green Farmacy Gardens doing medicinal plant research. In her position as adjunct assistant professor, she co-taught “Medicinal Plants of the Amazon” with Dr. Jim Duke in the Peruvian Amazon. She currently mentors graduate and undergraduate research teams. Dr. Ottesen has given many presentations regarding her work and research around the world.
Guido Pauli, PhD, FAPA, has belonged to the College of Pharmacy at the University of Illinois at Chicago since 2001, when he joined the faculty as a research professor for the Institute for Tuberculosis Research. He became a member in full standing of the graduate faculty in 2002 as an assistant professor at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, advanced to the rank of professor in 2012, and was named University Scholar in 2014. He teaches pharmacognosy and pharmaceutical biology in addition to advising graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. He has served as a member for panels and work groups for the NCCIH, part of the National Institutes of Health, since 2006, and the USP, since 2010. He is the associate editor of Chinese Herbal Medicines and has served on the editorial boards and as peer reviewer for several English- and Spanish-language phytomedicine publications.
Alain Touwaide, PhD, is an expert in ancient Mediterranean botany with a focus on medicinal plants. He has served as scientific director of the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions since 2007 and has been a Smithsonian Institution research associate since 2011. Dr. Touwaide earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Louvain in Belgium. Over the course of his career, he has been a fellow at the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow at the University of Oklahoma, a scholar-in-residence at the National Library of Medicine, and a visiting professor at universities around the world. He is the author or co-author of eight books and numerous book chapters, essays, and scholarly papers. In 2014, he received a prize from the International Society for the History of Medicine honoring his outstanding contribution to the history of medicine, and was elected fellow of the International Academy of the History of Science for his life-long dedication to the discipline.