The Society for Ethnopharmacology-India (SFE-India) has presented its “SFE – Outstanding International Ethnopharmacologist Award – 2017” to Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the nonprofit American Botanical Council (ABC). The award was given to Blumenthal at the society’s annual meeting and scientific conference in Surat, Gujarat, India, on February 23, 2017.
Ethnopharmacology is a branch of pharmacology that focuses on the knowledge and customs concerning medicinal substances, especially those of plant origin, and their use in traditional medicine. Ethnopharmacology pertains not only to traditional ethnobotany, but also to the modern scientific and clinical research on the safety and activity of historically used medicinal substances. It also involves quality control of these substances since they are used in modern societies (e.g., as foods, dietary supplements, and medicines).
“SFE-India is happy to confer the ‘SFE – Outstanding International Ethnopharmacologist Award – 2017’ to Mark Blumenthal for his outstanding contributions to the fields of ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, and medicinal plant research,” wrote Pulok Mukherjee, PhD, secretary of SFE and director of the School of Natural Product Studies at Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India.
Blumenthal has more than 45 years of experience in the fields of herb and medicinal plant education, research, publishing, quality control, regulation, market dynamics, and related areas. He has served as the executive director of ABC since he founded the organization in 1988, and he also serves as editor-in-chief of the nonprofit’s peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram, which he launched in 1983. In addition, Blumenthal is the senior editor of three highly regarded reference books on medicinal plants and co-editor of two additional reference books. He is also editor-in-chief of ABC’s HerbClip series of summaries and critical reviews of clinical studies and other scientific publications on herbs, medicinal plants, phytomedicines, teas, essential oils, plant-based foods, and fungi.
As the founder and director of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program, Blumenthal has been active in the international herb community in the areas of quality control and adulteration of botanical raw materials and extracts. The program is an international effort that has been underwritten or endorsed by more than 180 responsible parties, including manufacturers of medicinal plant products, trade associations, societies of researchers and health professionals, analytical laboratories, university research centers, and other stakeholders. It is a partnership among ABC, the nonprofit American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), and the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR), which is a US Food and Drug Administration Center for Excellence for the analysis of botanical ingredients used in dietary supplements.
“I am deeply honored and grateful to receive this award, which recognizes the international impact of the educational efforts of the American Botanical Council,” said Blumenthal in his acceptance of the award. “With members in more than 80 countries, ABC is truly an international organization.”
“Medicinal plant research and quality control are international; they are not limited by political borders,” he continued. “Scientists share their information globally for the highest benefit to all humankind, and I am pleased that ABC’s educational publications and programs are valued by our professional colleagues in India, a country with a rich history and tradition of medicinal plant use and robust modern scientific research.”
ABC Chief Science Officer Stefan Gafner, PhD, added: “Mark Blumenthal has a lifelong commitment to promote the responsible use of medicinal plants. The traditional use of medicinal plants by various cultures has always been one of his prime interests. Examples include the ABC-organized ecotours for pharmacists to learn about the ‘pharmacy of the rainforest’ in Peru, Belize, Costa Rica, and parts of Africa. Mark is only the fourth recipient of this prestigious award, and I congratulate him for this well-deserved recognition of his contributions to the field of ethnopharmacology.”
Previous recipients of the award include Michael Heinrich, PhD, professor of pharmacognosy at the University College London; Geoffrey Cordell, PhD, retired professor emeritus of pharmacognosy at the University of Illinois-Chicago; and Robert Verpoorte, PhD, professor emeritus at Leiden University.
The Society for Ethnopharmacology-India, which is composed of academicians, researchers, and members of the industry, works to disseminate knowledge for the promotion of ethnopharmacology and medicinal plants. In keeping with its mission of “Globalizing local knowledge and localizing global technologies,” SFE-India strives to provide an environment for knowledge-sharing among researchers, health care practitioners, and decision-makers who are interested in promoting ethnopharmacology and medicinal plants.