April 9, 2013
By Lauren McMillin
The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s National Center for Natural Products Research is hosting the 12th annual Oxford International Conference on the Science of Botanicals April 15-18.
The conference draws scientists from around the world to discuss medicinal plants and dietary supplements as well as the latest research innovations in such areas as natural products chemistry, pharmacognosy and botanicals.
“This conference has become a premier event for discussing developments in traditional medicine and botanicals, or as we call them here in the U.S., dietary supplements,” said Ikhlas Khan, assistant director of NCNPR and director of the center’s FDA Center for Excellence on Botanical Dietary Supplement Research.
“Our mission is to bring science behind the products so consumers can buy quality products that are safe,” Khan said. “We will discuss all relevant topics during the four-day conference.”
Foremost among them is regulation.
“This year we have organized a full one-day session on federal regulations, which will provide a unique opportunity for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to interact with industry representatives to discuss how science can help resolve issues related to products safety and quality,” Khan said.
This year’s keynote speaker is Oliver Rabin, science director for the World Anti-Doping Agency. Rabin has established an international reputation as an expert in pharmaceutical research and development.
Other speakers for the event include leading researchers from academic and non-profit organizations, trade associations and government agencies. During each session, a speaker will provide an overview of the topic to be discussed. Presentations will cover such subjects as authenticating, cultivating, collecting and processing plants in a manner that results in quality products.
The conference, which takes place at the Oxford Conference Center, also features a poster contest that enables students to share their research. This year, two travel awards will be given to student presenters who belong to the American Society of Pharmacognosy or have been mentored by an ASP member.
While providing participants with opportunities to exchange information and communicate about their work, the conference also focuses national and international attention on the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy and the city of Oxford.
“We are proud to host such an event, which brings experts from across the globe to our school and the university,” Kahn said. “It really brings great recognition to our program.”
Based in the School of Pharmacy, NCNPR is the nation’s only university research center devoted to improving human health and agricultural productivity through the discovery, development and commercialization of pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals derived from plants, marine organisms and other natural sources.
NCNPR is partnering with several agencies to support the conference, including the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
Additional support, on an international level, comes from China’s Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica/CAS, India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Indigenous Medicine, Germany’s Society for Medicinal Plant Research, and the American and Korean societies of pharmacognosy.