President of Mauritius recognized by ABC for contributions to medicinal plant research

ABC's Mark Blumenthal at the March 2016 awards ceremony. Photo: ABC
ABC's Mark Blumenthal at the March 2016 awards ceremony. Photo: ABC

Related tags Medicinal plants Ethnobotany

Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, PhD, President of the Republic of Mauritius, is the recipient of the American Botanical Council’s 2016 Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award.

Gurib-Fakim, who was elected as Mauritius’s first female president in 2015, leads her country as an advocate for African medicinal plants, and has made valuable contributions to the knowledge of the medicinal properties of plants growing on Mauritius and the surrounding islands in the Indian Ocean, said ABC in a release.

“ABC is deeply honored to be able to recognize the excellent ethnobotanical, pharmacognostic, and conservation efforts and publications of Her Excellency Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim,”​ said Mark Blumenthal, ABC’s founder and executive director.

“Her tireless work on medicinal plants in the Indian Ocean and East African region has already garnered several well-deserved and high-profile international awards. I am certain that the late Professor Farnsworth would highly approve of ABC’s selection of Dr. Gurib-Fakim to receive his eponymous award.”

Prior to her election, Gurib-Fakim worked as managing director of Centre International de Développement Pharmaceutique (CIDP) Research and Innovation, where she researched the indigenous medicinal plants of Mauritius. Her research interests include ethnobotany and ethnomedicine, and the bioactivity, chemical composition, and quality control of medicinal plants, particularly those with antimicrobial properties. She has authored or co-authored more than 100 research publications and dozens of books.

“Biodiversity and indigenous knowledge systems underpin life on earth,”​ said Gurib-Fakim. “Africa’s unique biodiversity will continue to offer humankind new leads and medicine provided that we conserve, document, and validate the traditional knowledge associated with medicinal plants. The latter remains a reservoir of innovative ingredients that not only respond to the needs of industry but also buffer us against ailments that do not yet exist.”

ABC Chief Science Officer Stefan Gafner, PhD, commented: “Research on the medicinal properties of plants from the African continent is certainly close to my heart, since this was the topic of my graduate research. Therefore, I am very pleased that this year’s award goes to Her Excellency Dr. Gurib-Fakim.

“Her work on the chemistry, bioactivity, and medical uses of medicinal plants of Africa and the Indian Ocean represents the very essence of what this award intends to recognize: an exceptional career in pharmacognosy research.”

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